They Were Wrong, So We Drowned – Liars

Label: Mute

Those aren’t song titles to be sniffed at. No sire. Reckless arrangements of words not seen on a record sleeve since there was last a Liars album out. And possibly featuring our favourite title of the year so far in ‘If Your A Wizard, Then Why Do You Wear Glasses?’. Also take note of that sentence’s grammar. Pretentious? Them? The jury’s out though on whether such applaudable creativity was applied to the songs contained within. Or, for that matter, whether the word Liars on the cover means much at all. The single cover for ‘There’s Always Room On The Broom’ with Einsturzende Neubauten jokily crossed out and replaced with Liars was more to the point than you might have realised.

Out go the self-styled wiseass punk-funk cranks that delivered the surprisingly fabulous debut ‘They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top’. In come a rabble of self-styled wiseass avant-garde rhythmic concept psycho art-punks. There is only really one track on here, ‘Hold Hands And It Will Happen Anyway’, that bears any relation to a Liars we know. And that’s characterised by gloomy repetitive chants, paranoid beats and rabid lashing feedback, sounding like Sonic Youth being ritually beheaded in an electrical storm under a blood red sky, blindfolded to intensify the fear further. Listening in, you feel like the voodoo doll being used to inflict the pain. And rather thrilled because of it.

The rest are fragmented and often disconcerting improvisations (you couldn’t arrive at something like ‘They Took 14 For The Rest Of Our Lives’ through planning, surely) inspired by arch-experimentalists like Can and Neu! and filtered into a warped concept narrative around the subject of witchcraft. There are certainly times where their jagged blend of seemingly random elements are as intoxicating, disorienting and/or mesmerising as they intended, the sub-industrial rhythm soup of ‘We Fenced Other Houses With The Bones Of Our Own’ and the revolting screeching mechanics of ‘There’s Always Room On The Broom’ for instance. Others (‘Steam Rose From The Lifeless Cloak’) don’t follow through with their threats. Given time this record does work some kind of magic. Just of what type we’re unsure. 

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Release: Liars - They Were Wrong, So We Drowned
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Released: 10 March 2004