# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Liars - Sisterworld

  by Jeff Thiessen

published: 31 / 3 / 2010

Liars - Sisterworld
Label: Mute Records
Format: CD


Absurd, but also approachable fifth album from New York avant-garde trio, Liars

When 'Sisterworld' arrived in the mail for me to review, I just had one thought: “Please make this easier to figure out than 'Drum’s Not Dead'”. Three years later, I still don’t really get that album. For the life of me, I just cannot conclude what I should think of it. I mean I think it’s sonically stellar, but for my money, Liars put out one of the most disconcerting, mystifying offerings of the last fifteen years or so, which itself should tell me its existence should be devoid of indecision or vacillation. Come to think of it, 'Drum’s Not Dead' is probably totally awesome, even (or especially) if to me the majority of it just sounds like one giant muddled echo. Sometimes a distant rumbling can be sort of cathartic when it gets up close, I guess. Thankfully, 'Sisterworld' is a more centralized effort that actually does sound like it was created on Planet Earth. After listening to it through a couple times, it’s not the hail-of-gunfire effort most are touting to be, although it must be said those who describe it as such are not far off. Instead, 'Sisterworld' focuses on the not-so-rosy shade of the afterglow. By and large, Liars are way past the point of being morbidly curious as to why everyone around them seems insistent on allowing this frequently tragic, stupefying world careen past them without any proportionate reaction or conduct whatsoever. 'Sisterworld' doesn’t paint a picture of John Dillinger collapsing with guns blazing as a symbol of urban freedom dying a swift and dramatic death that day; instead they’re way more concerned with the casual onlookers stepping over his body as they try to catch the eleven o’clock subway. It’s an important distinction to make, because it’s this hazy, buzzed-out upshot ensures the music is much more about the crevices, the crawlspaces between modern detached hysteria on a mass, calculated scale, not a real depiction of contemporary big city life. Basically, it’s more for those who identified much more with Eddie Vedder’s lyric on Pearl Jam’s 'Smile' tune, found on their No Code record: “Don’t it make you smile/When the sun don’t shine at all?” than those big picture folks who were fleetingly inspired by the barren landscapes found on something like Sonic Youth’s 'NYC’s Ghost and Flowers'. It’s about the spaces in between, and how awkward fitting in can truly be if you don’t see enough reward in trying. 'Sisterworld' is a punk album in the sense that it is a knee-jerk reaction to the moral majority who don’t see validity in a perpetual, rationalized frown, but that’s probably as far as it goes in the ‘punk’ spectrum. It’s an accessible record for Liars standards, but of course that really doesn’t tell us a whole lot. In keeping with its theme centering on the justification of primal disenchantment, the music never sits still long enough to be any one particular mood. Instead it strives to serve as a proud replica of all those folks out there that see life in terms far beyond unsophisticated ‘mover and shaker’ terms. Simply put, there is simply no way to really accurately predict what any single track has in store for the listener. Hushed grooves are born, nurtured, and then yanked without the slightest warning, only to be replaced by a screaming guitar at a random interval ¾ throughout what appeared to be, a completely serene and harmonious offering. The opener, 'Scissors', the primo cut on the album, is the most clear cut example of this, but this jarring tactic reappears many times throughout the album, and it never feels forced or distilled at any point. Other times they waste no time with the tuneful ear candy and launch straight into the blitzkrieg, like on 'Scarecrows on a Killer Slant'. In cases like this, it makes the apocalyptic warfare found on the best Killing Joke songs, come across like a cautionary Green-Peace pamphlet. That synth line in 'Scarecrows' nearly bore a hole in my fucking skull. It seems I’ve always been sort of drawn to music that’s not afraid to let the bass guitar do a lot of the leading, and Sisterworld definitely backs up that theory. Frequently we’re privy to an extremely vital bass riff not only pounding away at the foreground (the best example of this would probably be the sexy ‘No Barrier Fun’. Yes, a Liars song you could probably fuck to, yes I’m sure it’s the only one). When this approach is seamlessly assimilated with strings and piano, as it often is, the cleverness of their successful execution is totally eclipsed by an effectual declaration of a commonsensical frenzy that the listener never has a hope of escaping from, and it’s this realization that has made me conclude this is their crowning effort, not the aesthetically impressive, but ultimately alienating the effort of 'Drum's Not Dead'. Finally, we have Liars taking their absurd talent level and flawless pedigree to the world where the rest of us live. This might not be great for them in the long run, because unfortunately, this is the same place asshole rock stars live, and 'Sisterworld' does have the capacity to bestow such a title on these guys. No longer content to hover around the daily workings of contemporary American society, the harpies have decided their view of Tartarus just wasn’t as caustically interesting as it perhaps once was. Of course now that they’ve landed, everything seems broken and strangely simultaneously far more mechanically united than their unprocessed view from above seemed to indicate, or allow them to perceive anyways. Believe it or not, Liars have finally allowed themselves to create an album that wasn’t inspired by the extents of the limitations provided by whatever studio playing host for them. Instead, they reach inside and dutifully test the limitations of themselves while playing the music they love. Naturally, what comes out is pretty ugly and mostly chaotic; I mean this is Liars we’re talking about here. But you know what, so are most people wandering our streets bumping into each other, which just goes to show this album's most impressive feat might just be the looming realization, that there’s a little bit of the Liars in all of us. Actually, probably not. But for better or worse, this is the perfect record to play during those times in your car, when you hear about some horrific car accident on the radio that left five dead, and the only thought that occurs to you seems to be “How will this affect my route to the mall?”

Track Listing:-
1 Scissor
2 No Barrier Fun
3 Here Comes All The People
4 Drip
5 Scarecrows On A Killer Slant
6 I Still Can See An Outside World
7 Proud Evolution
8 Drop Dead
9 The Overachievers
10 Goodnight Everything
11 Too Much, Too Much

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