Liars don’t give a single hoot what anyone thinks about them. Everything they release is a left-turn, and even when it’s bad it’s still somewhat admirable.
Their 2007, self-titled follow up to the frankly awesome Drum’s not Dead is the weakest release in their catalogue, and while you can’t hate them for stumbling after the uniqueness of Drum’s not Dead, some skepticism about the release of Sisterworld was only fair, right?
Thankfully, Sisterworld is fucking great. The boys have distilled the Garage-y Rock and moody pop of Liars into a much more cohesive collection of the weird and wonderful. It seems touring with Radiohead has cleaned up Liars’ production and tightened their songwriting, but believe me when I say this isn’t a bad thing.
String and brass sections are the major difference here, and who would have thought they’d work so well. Smartly, Liars’ choice of Viola and Cello (and maybe a bassoon?) instead of soaring/mournful violins adds an eerie Baroque vibe to tracks like No Barrier Fun, Goodnight Everything and Scissor. The latter of these is an amazing twist on Alterna Rock that opens with a spooky ‘barber shop quartet’ of Angus Andrews moaning about a girl with scissors and his blood soaked arms. Violas meander, pianos tinkle and then a sudden snare-snap gives way to a brief, stomping, balls-out chorus. The soft-loud dichotomy a ‘la every 90’s Grunge band is a refreshing surprise in Liars’ hands. How many bands can do that?
Sisterworld is in many ways a riotous blend of the band’s Dance-Punk roots and their subsequent sonic oddities. After flirting with pop rock conventions on the Liars album, the band now have a much better handle on merging song-like aesthetics with a general curiosity about sound. Scarecrows on a Killer Slant and The Overachievers sound like The Cramps and Southern Culture on the Skids doing Peyote together. Drip and Proud Evolution tackle dub-like palettes and droning ambience, while I Still can see an Outside World takes the discordant guitar work of Drum’s Not Dead and builds itself up into a screeching shakedown, before drifting away in Sonic Youth simmer.
What we have here is a record that, for me is much more fun than its predecessor, probably because the band sound like they’re having a blast too. Sisterworld takes the FX effected drums out of the mix completely (something that I don’t think worked with the rock moments on Liars), which strengthens its conventional sides and gives the more playful elements of Liars’ songwriting room to breathe. I won’t be surprised if Sisterworld ends up somewhere in my 2010 list of favourite records. A sweet return to form.