Mess à la Mode
With several kinetic and kooky efforts under their belt, it seems as though Liars have become the most Liars they have ever been. And though that might seem like a standard and generic statement in most cases, it is prudent here when taken in context of their previous album, WIXIW, of which the newest record, Mess seems to be an elaborated extension. Though the compositions here are fairly tight and structured, the electronic buzz and fuzz feels a little messy, but in a Pollock-type way. In this way, Liars are clearly just being who they have always been at heart. “Facts are Facts, Fictions Fiction” goes one particularly catchy refrain from the bouncy, “Mess on Mission,” and that’s the essence of the music here. Things are often frantic as the vocals slur like melting caramel and scuzzy keyboards bleep and bloop in all interesting manners.
Though they’re not reinventing the wheel with Mess, much of the album just has a fun and interesting tone to it. With tight, yet playful production, tracks like “Pro Anti-Anti” and “I’m No Gold” have that dual-’80s feeling, balancing new wave tunefulness and pop slants against a brooding goth vocal to excellent effect. However, even with the subtle allegiance to music of the not-too-distant past, the post-modern playfulness of these Brooklynites lay veritable music trapdoors for the listeners. This way, they retain a sound all their own.
Their energy is so infectious that when a song like “Can’t Hear Well” comes along, with its bare bones synth line and vocal set-up, one feels like it’s a little bit of letdown, even though as a little ditty, it is quite charming.
Still, Liars’ bread is buttered in the highly charged drum machine fueled bumpers. As it goes, one has quite the lion’s share to pick from. So though Mess seems like only a more boisterous extension to what Liars have been building all along, the tight and studied execution of this plan should not be overlooked. Taking tricks and tools from what seems like every nook and cranny of electronic music history, Mess throws down a musical gauntlet for their fans and detractors alike, and as loud and proud as it goes, this is one fun album.