Top 25 LPs of 2012
Surely fans of Liars have been taught to expect the unexpected by now, but, even so, what are we supposed to expect when they deliver an album of music so unexpected that even those expecting the unexpected don’t know what to expect? (That’s some faux-highbrow bull**** right there.) They almost definitely didn’t think they’d have to be taught how to pronounce its title (“wish-you”, which sounds like a sneeze more than an album). From stroppy squealing dance-punk, to peerless concept albums about anxiety and witch-trials, to clang-bang-boom indie pop to epic grand-scale suites of urban claustrophobia, they’ve crossed a lot of borders, but who put ‘WIXIW’ on, pressed play and had their assumptions fulfilled? Synthesizers? What the crap?
Even the band themselves can’t remember how they got a lot of the sounds for the record. They would gather “different” sounds by any means they could – they would hang wet flannels on a line and record the sound of the water droplets hitting saucepans; they would place microphones up trees to record the flocks of roosting birds; they would use guitars with snapped necks and Christ knows what else. What’s brilliant about these methods, however, is that Liars never make this found-sound approach into a gimmick. They weave this bottled earthly strangeness seamlessly into the songs.
The songs themselves centre around the concept of doubt – while the opener says “I’ll never let you down / You’ll never be alone” in of one the most tender songs the band has written, it all dissipates into ‘Octagon’, with Angus Andrew’s guttural drawl of “Leave me, I will break your heart”. These songs feel like something of a sequential internal narrative of unease and restlessness. It’s a deep record, but it’s also the most approachable the band has ever been. It’s one of those LPs where you can find new angles to it with more and more plays, not just lyrically, but sonically.
I feel like this blurb is less over-the-top enthusiastic than most of the others I write. Maybe that’s because I’m trying to restrain myself (for once), maybe it’s because I feel writing about a record like this feels pointless and doesn’t really add anything, or maybe I’d just rather you listen to it and dig deep into it yourself than sit here reading about it, but I will say this: albums like ‘WIXIW’ are exceptionally rare. Liars have completely overhauled their sound and made it more accessible than ever, and yet they have done it all without a shred of compromise, pushing their experimental boundaries into new territories. It’s one of their most immediate records, and one of their most impenetrable, but all of this isn’t the main reason why it sits at #1 on this self-important pompous countdown of mine: it’s simply because, I have enjoyed listening to no other LP from 2012 more than this one.
For fans of… Radiohead, CAN, Deerhunter, Fever Ray, The Knife
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–Joe Anthony Hill
**Posts signed Joe Anthony Hill are not the opinions of the staff of Music’s Not Dead. I don’t work, there I just wish I did and they let me write stuff here. (Thanks guys.)
Merry New Year and happy listening!