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Liars mess cover


Liars - 2014

It’s a tricky thing to write a review of an album that’s in a genre that you’re not particularly a fan of. On one hand I’d like to be open enough to all types of music that I can evaluate it, regardless of my general opinions about the genre, or my past experiences with that genre. All of that is a bit impossible of course, because if I liked dance music, then I wouldn’t have inherent biases towards it. I do like some of the grooves, the studio artistry, and the way these DJs effect people physically with their choices. The thing is though, I don’t dance. Oh, I’ll get drunk at a wedding and tear up the floor when “It takes Two” inevitably gets played. What I don’t do is go out to clubs at 3 in the morning with glow sticks around my neck. Now, not all electronic music is dance music of course, and Liars is somewhere in the middle as far as I can tell. What I did hear of the album was compelling enough for me to pick it up and give it a few listens, so I think it warrants a review. I rarely listen to albums with almost 100% synthetic sounds, and Mess seems like one of those albums. The album opener, “Mask Maker” should definitely be listened to with a strobe light on. The constant pulse of the snare on 2 and 4 is exactly what I think of when I think of electronic music. Another trait of this genre is the mixing of one track into another to the point of not realizing the songs has changed. (or have they really at all?) That’s what happens from “Mask Maker” into track 2, “Vox Tuned D.E.D.” The snare on 2 and 4 continues straight out of one and into the other. I only realized the tracks changed because the notification popped up on my Mac. The vocals remind me A LOT of Marilyn Manson at times. Not nearly as engaging, but with that brooding type of tone. If the electronic tone were covered a bit with distorted guitars this could have been a MM album. Surprise! Track 3 “I’m No Gold” has that 2-4 snare again. None of these tracks have been boring, but they’ve basically reaffirmed my opinion about this type of music. This music is dependent on being in the right place to enjoy it. You wouldn’t listen to it for the lyrics, and I don’t find the sounds to be interesting enough to listen based solely on that. Track 4, “Pro Anti Anti” opens up STRONG, with a more driving synth riff. The 2-4 thing is still there of course, but it’s punching much harder. When the vocals come in, it’s now full on Marilyn Manson to my ears. Still not as heavy, or lyrically compelling by any means, but the voice is definitely similar. These guys could have toured with KMFDM in the 90’s for sure. Track 5, “Can’t Hear Well” is a terrible pseudo ballad. Just skip it. “Mess On A Mission” is up next. This is the catchy single. The vinyl Record Store Day release of this single looked crazy cool, but that’s besides the point. The “Mess on a mission!” falsetto chorus is catchy, but sure to annoy some people. I’m fine with it. I’ll keep listening to this in the future. The next track “Darkslide” has some great layered percussion sounds. I’m not sure if any of them are real, but it still sounds cool. This is the best headphone track on the album. There’s no “song” to it unfortunately, but it’s a fun listen. Although I did like parts of this album, my biases are still in tact. The “songs” aren’t songs so much as collections of sounds set to a thumping beat. With other genres of music the songs can be all about the lyrics, all about the instrumentation, all about the feeling, or any number of things. This type of stuff has mediocre vocals, singing mediocre lyrics at best. The riffs are just ok, because they are a slave to a certain beat most of the time. The redeeming feature is the layering of sounds. The track “Perpetual Village” gets pretty interesting to listen to on headphones, but again the vocals are pointless, and the song structure is too linear as it follows a thumping drum beat. What Bjork was doing early in her solo career was everything this type of music lacks. It had heart because in addition to layered electronic studio sounds, it had real songs, with great lyrics, sung by an emotive and brilliant vocalist. It’s not fair for me to compare anyone to Bjork, but I admittedly don’t have a ton of experience in this arena. There’s a few tracks here that I’ll listen to again, but Mess doesn’t do it for me.

Posted by Tambe



Posted: 05/31/2014

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