Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Nov. 15, 2002
LiarsThey Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top (Blast First/Mute)
NYC's Liars are a young, art-damaged avant-punk quartet, at least two of whom actually attended art school. This album, originally released last year on Gern Blandsten, posits the group as obtuse techno-scavengers herky-jerking through the crumbling ruins of a decaying empire much like their forebears in Gang of Four did two decades ago. Liars tap such similarly jagged sources as Six Finger Satellite and Girls Against Boys, while maintaining an anarchic rawness that sometimes disconcerts, but always sets them apart. Australian-born vocalist Angus Andrew goes from Anglicized analgesic nod to petulant social critique on "Grown Men Don't Fall in the River, Just Like That," with his detached reading of post-ironic bumper sticker lyrics like "We've got our fingers on the pulse of America." On "The Garden Was Crowded and Outside," Liars incorporate loops of typewriters, telephones, and drum machines to complement the bob-and-weave technique put forth by guitar and bass. While their found object gimmickry is a novel enough enticement, the Liars' solid stop/start rhythm section is what keeps the junkyard noise spastically danceable. They close their debut with "This Dust Makes That Mud," a slowly building climactic opus that never actually climaxes. Instead, the song seamlessly segues into a loop that goes on for about 25 minutes, but it's too gradual a transition to recognize right off the mark. As far as rakish listener pranks go, this puts the hidden bonus track to shame.