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Bikini Atoll - Liar's Exit

  by Olga Sladeckova

published: 16 / 5 / 2005

Bikini Atoll - Liar's Exit
Label: Bella Union
Format: CD


Compelling second album from London-based art rockers and Pennyblackmusic Bands Night stars Bikini Atoll, which was recorded in Chicago with Steve Albini

It’s over two years since Bikini Atoll came to my attention. I thought they were fantastic from the outset and now all this time on I still think they are one of the best bands I’ve ever heard. Bikini Atoll consists of Joe Gideon (vocals, guitar, bass), Viva (piano, electronica, guitar, vocals), Bastian Juel (bass, guitar) and Che Albrighton (drums, vocals). It was June 2003 when the four piece found themselves a record label, Bella Union (also home to Dirty Three, Lift To Experience, The Dears, Robin Guthrie and Violet Indiana, etc.) , which released their debut album ‘Moratoria’ in early 2004. Since then Bikini Atoll have also also released some singles and earned themselves a respectable and faithful audience, especially in their local London area. In September 2004 Bikini Atoll returned to the recording studio and the result is their second album ‘Liar’s Exit’. Actually it wasn’t as much of a return as a journey. The band travelled to Chicago to record their album with the help of Steve Albini. If you are familiar with Steve Albini you will know that, as well as having fronted Big Black and now Shellac, he is also known for his exceptional production work with bands, helping them to capture in the studio a raw and live sound. The 11 track 'Liar's Exit' opens with the rhythmic ‘I Turned a Blind Eye’. On the first listen the song sounds quite pleasant and calming. Listening to and reading the lyrics from the enclosed, CD booklet enclosed, however, reveals that it has a more disturbing feel to it. “I was just one of the many Never stepped out of line… And looking back I was filled with hate… We were together Like stitches and tape I wished you death * ‘I Turned a Blind Eye’ is a good opener for the album. It gets you straight into the right mood. The following ‘Bluebeard’ is much more rough. That suits Gideon’s, on this occasion, forceful voice and the heartlessly marching music. Having known Bikini Atoll for over 2 years I’ve heard the third track at their gig many times. Funnily enough I only found out its title, ‘Eve’s Rib’, from this album. The vivid feel of the recording has really paid off here. Gideon’s voice, which is full of distinctive character, comes across as really strong. The fiery rhythm of the song just won’t allow you stay cold to the music. To give you a clearer idea of the song’s sounds you may want to think of it as punk with edgy guitars, and meaningful lyrics joined by vocals by all 4 band members the in chorus part of the song. ‘Nervous Wreck’ plays even more on a punk sound but once again circles around safe, if that is what you would like to call it, independent music territory. The background distortion actually reminds me of the Jesus and Mary Chain. Gideon’s voice would in fact be a good competitor for the Mary Chain's lead singer Jim Reid. ‘Shark Requiem’ is, in my opinion, the best track on the album. It is an instrumental but its sound and seductive rhythm is unforgiving. It starts with a slight distortion shaping up into a slick sound which stimulates and evolves your imagination. The stream of music the band produce has a dominant nature. Keyboards enrich the sound with colour and slightly soften the otherwise sharp rhythm. The ray of energy of ‘Shark Requiem’ is exchanged for the peaceful sound of the following song ‘Silver Moon’. Given the song is called ‘Silver Moon’, it does draw a picture of dark blue night illuminated by moon looking over the land as Gideon sings: “No marks or abrasions, no black eyes around her brown eyes Could explain the events that transpired in her short life… And what about her shoes, that were placed neatly by her side Turned upside down, the soles clean of all dirt and grime And I think no one saw me But I know that’s not true You saw me silver moon” You might have noticed the lyrics on ‘Liar’s Exit’ are narrative in tone. For all their versatility, however, it’s not really possible to work out their exact meaning. You can just let your imagination run wild and find your own story in them. Talking about lyrics, another striking song for that cause is ‘Autumn’s Child’. There is a real autumnal sound to the song enforced by deep sounds of bass guitar and a gentle slow-paced piano. ‘Liar’s Exit’ is definitely a respectful follower to ‘Moratoria’. Having said that, there is no way of comparing the two albums for their distinct sounds. While that can be disappointing for people who expect them to sound similar I think it is to the credit of the band coming up with something different but of equally high quality.

Track Listing:-
1 I Turned A Blind Eye
2 Bluebeard
3 Eve's Rib
4 Remains
5 Nervous Wreck
6 The Conversation
7 Shark Requiem
8 Silver Moon
9 Cement Names
10 Autumn's Child
11 Secret Filming

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Interview (2006)
Bikini Atoll - Interview
London-based band Bikini Atoll have been gaining increasing acclaim during the last year. Back for a third interview with us, front man Joe Gideon talks to Olga Sladeckova recording their second album 'Liar's Exit' in Chicago with Steve Albini
Interview (2004)
Interview (2003)

live reviews

Balham Bedford, London, 12/6/2003
Bikini Atoll - Balham Bedford, London, 12/6/2003
Drawing comparision with Joy Division and Nick Cave, Bikini Atoll are of the rising acts on the London scene. Olga Sladeckova watches them play an impressive set in London's Balham Bedford

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