Since the group’s inception in 2000, dance-thrashers Liars have barreled down abysmal spirals to reach clarity. From the punk-stomp of 2004’s They Were Wrong, So We Drowned to the bleary-eyed atmospherics of their last, WIXIW, there’s always a palatable dread hovering over the trio’s work.
Still, Liars functions as an amorphous entity dramatically expanding and constricting from record to record. The band’s latest, Mess, dabbles in studies of unadulterated electronica while furthering a fixation with dynamics. Mess is a dense record for big rooms, demanding to be heard with potent subwoofers.
Unlike producers who get trigger-happy with capacities for excess available when using the Ableton software, Liars have crafted a lean, commanding listen. Even on heavier tracks like “Vox Tuned D.E.D.,” thick bass never takes over the song’s minutia. Beats are utilized sparingly, notably on “Dress Walker,” recalling a sludgier Four Tet, and light industrial clangs curl the nine-minute “Perpetual Village” into a spooky urban legend.
More than anything, Mess is impactful commentary about the contemporary tendency to consume culture passively. The album’s opener features a garbled voice commanding the listener to “take [their] face off.” Coupled with trigger samples, Mess resounds as existential, even terrifying. But then again, the truth often is.