[sic] Magazine

Liars – Sisterworld

A lot has changed since Liars ‘ debut landed nine or so years ago. The world has become smaller and Liars have resolutely spread themselves across it. Forming in LA, they left for New York and then recorded their third album in Berlin. Sisterworld is their fifth and reportedly refers to Liars’ “own space, completely devoid of influence”. So, what therefore of Liars’ ever-shifting back catalogue? If Sisterworld is their ground zero, what next for their capricious post-punk, krautrock, indie ambience and explosive noise?

Well, gone is the primal excitement of their eponymous offering, gone is the blistering punk-funk of the debut, gone too are the proggish, artsy explorations that enlivened their They Were Wrong, So We Drowned album. In their place we find a chilling orchestra, paranoid arrangements and claustrophobic beats that supposedly mirror a version of modern day LA. This is Sisterworld.

Opening in atmospheric but creepy harmonies, “Scissor” explodes into bass-heavy beats and drone before returning to gentle organ and soothing woodwind patterns. “No Barrier Fun” is altogether creepier, tripping along on beats with a haunting DJ Shadow-type overlay. Angus Andrew is velvety yet disturbed throughout, and it works well capping a strong start.

Sisterworld here becomes a little more predictable, reverting to quiet-loud arrangements and mildly funky yet disquieting ambience, and both “Here Come All The People” and “Drip” do this trick satisfactorily. We happily plunge back into the gloom for “Scarecrows On A Killer Street”, a track that grew from Andrew’s real life witnessing of a murder, and the track is the most likely to appeal to those fans of their more abrasive material. It screeches, pulses and hurtles through Drum’s Not Dead-level noise-rock, smashing the results into They Threw Us All …-like dance-punk. “I Still Can See An Outside World” is primarily a lullaby as sung by the neighbourhood weirdo before in crash the guitars and heavy drumming to form a track more effective than it first appears.

Atmospheric rattles and slow plucked guitar align “Proud Evolution” with a Nick Cave soundtrack. Throughout its five minutes, it turns into a slow building krautrocker with shoegazish droning as the title is rhythmically chanted and looped around increasingly fractured, pulsing and manic layering. Those aboard the good ship These New Puritans may well find favour in Sisterworld’s heavy beats and its new-age Gothic, and “Drop Dead” picks up where “No Barrier Fun” left off, curiously rhythmic yet slyly menacing and driven on by bass played a few revolutions too slow. Ideally, it’s where Interpol could have headed after Turn On The Bright Lights, it’s a creepy extension which would perhaps have befit them more than kohl-linered disco ultimately did.

“The Overachievers” is back in noise-punk territory but pales a little against Sisterworld’s rich tapestry, whereas “Goodnight Everything” reprises the dusty, tense soundtrack feel of “Proud Evolution” drifting along on bassoon until the inevitable guitar licks arrive to bully their way for attention. The drums’ arrival shows both who’s boss and stamp their authority monolithically on this frazzled psych-rocker. The Sisterworld showcase closes with “Too Much, Too Much”, a more optimistic number that chimes into being, rising like a purifying sun as the guitars build into a relaxed and diaphanous crescendo and ambient outro.

Oscar Wilde called all influence “immoral”, not allowing one’s true colours to shine through. Sisterworld is supposedly without it, but this is not strictly true for we are dealing with Liars. Andrew has always almost sounded like TV On The Radio ‘s Tunde Adebimpe , and on Sisterworld his soulful impersonation is his closest effort yet. And the TVOTR connection doesn’t stop there. Just as the underwhelming Dear Science broke Adebimpe’s collective into the pseudo-mainstream after several edgier attempts, so may Sisterworld do for Liars. It’s edgy sure, the big beats confirm it, but Sisterworld is a reflection of an alternate LA, and when their guard is down Liars sometimes forget which side of the mirror they’re on.

The bonus remix disc available on the special edition is naturally a mixed bag. Some run with the funkier elements of the Liars’ catalogue, other with their outsider tendencies. A treat for the completist sure, but not strictly necessary.

1. “Scissor (Pink Dollaz, Lance Whitaker & Transformation Surprise)” – 2:42
2. “No Barrier Fun (Duetonal aka Alan Vega of Suicide)” – 3:00
3. “Here Comes All the People (Atlas Sound aka Bradford Cox)” – 6:29
4. “Drip (Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead)” – 4:07
5. “Scarecrows on a Killer Slant (Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio)” – 2:30
6. “I Still Can See an Outside World (Boyd Rice of NON)” – 3:44
7. “Proud Evolution (Thom Yorke 500qd Remix)” – 6:00
8. “Drop Dead (Fol Chen)” – 3:52
9. “The Overachievers (Devendra Banhart and the Grogs)” – 4:22
10. “Goodnight Everything (Melvins)” – 5:05
11. “Too Much, Too Much (Carter Tutti of Throbbing Gristle)” – 4:28



Sisterworld is out now on Mute.