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Album review: Seventh Liars album ‘Mess’ takes another strange detour


Even as they crafted one of this decade’s best albums, experimental trio Liars hinted at their next big move. “Brats”—the penultimate track on 2012’s otherwise chill-electronic WIXIW—positively raved, suggesting that a band famous for avant concepts and noisy explorations might sneak under the velvet rope and onto the dancefloor.

The first half of double-length seventh album Mess fulfills that strange promise. Five early tracks—“Mask Maker,” “Vox Turned D.E.D.,” “I’m No Gold,” “Pro Anti Anti” and “Mess on a Mission”—pound with rhythmic intensity, demanding more than an earphoned head bop. Will kandi kids come running? Doubtful, since Angus Andrew’s vocals remain a freakish acquired taste, to say nothing of his lyrics (“Take my pants off/Use my socks/Smell my socks/Eat my face off/Take my face/Give me your face”). And then there’s Mess’ second half, when Liars go David Bowie Low on their listeners, mostly ditching full-on hooks for glitchy atmospherics—and maybe pointing to the next stop on their unpredictable journey.


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