My Albums of 2012 – No. 3: Liars ‘WIXIW’

liars

Liars are one of the most consistently interesting bands around. They are also one of the most consistently underrated. Their latest album, WIXIW (pronounced ‘wish you’), has appeared in barely any ‘Best of 2012’ lists, which I find utterly baffling. I can only assume that this is because this is an album that takes a few listens before you can really appreciate its nuances. Or maybe it’s just because of the difficult-to-pronounce title. More probably, it’s because this is a perverse record that is the band’s most accessible yet – so accessible that it was likely to alienate their usual fans. However, the album begins with ‘The Exact Colour Of Doubt’, which is a beautiful mix of washed-out soundscapes and skittish beats, yet experimental enough to turn-off the casual listener, as well as atypical enough to turn-off diehard fans.

Liars are a band obsessed with the sonics and rhythms of music. They are similar in that regard to Radiohead, as well as the fact that their first foray into electronic music (like Radiohead’s) is no mere fashion exercise. It tells you how serious they were about the endeavour, that they made the album with Daniel Miller – the producer (and head of their record label, Mute) behind Depeche Mode and Yazoo, and a man with a deep knowledge of electronic music. This also highlights the difference with Radiohead – in making their first true electronic record, Liars weren’t looking to go it alone. They were also looking toward the Mute, as opposed to the Warp back catalogue.

This is a warm and rich-sounding record, with deep layers in every track. It’s an album of emotional depth and tenderness, yet it doesn’t lose any of the band’s usual boisterousness. ‘Brats’ is their most typical track and is a glorious romp, which you can imagine becoming a mainstay of their live set. Even better was the joyous clatter of ‘A Ring On Every Finger’ and the beautiful washed soundscape of ‘No. 1 Against The Rush’. All of these tracks make sense of the skewed romanticism of the album’s title – a beautiful phrase, made to look ugly, which neatly sums up this incredible album from a genuinely brilliant group.

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