Liars - WIXIW

Unpredictable, in the very best way.

Label: Mute

Rating: 8

Where do you go when you could go anywhere? Well, the answer, if you’re Liars, seems to be a log cabin in the woods. The constantly shifting art rock beast retreated to the wilderness to come up with the sounds for their new record and emerged with ‘WIXIW’ (pronounced ‘Wish you’). It’s another volte-face, seeing them meld together samples to form a work rich in textures and ideas.

Following two albums of relatively conventional art rock, and after a series of weird hints on the Amateur Gore tumblr, the album reveals itself as an adventurous and electronic one, pushing them into territories they’ve never been before (which is why for their first venture into electronic music they requested Mute boss Daniel Miller to cast his expert eye over it). But as they usually do they pull it off with unconventional aplomb – this is a melting pot of noises, samples and vocals merging to form a striking and affecting album.

For an album all made within a computer this is the most overtly human and personal thing they’ve created. Opener ‘The Exact Color Of Doubt’ introduces the themes of the album with its skittering, haunting beauty. Angus sings ‘I’ll never let you go’ and we start to see the doubts and anxieties that permeate many of these songs.

It’s also a tender record eloquently exploring emotions and mind-states in the wake of broken relationships and illness. The palindromic title hints at the theme of duality that seeps through the record, with the constant feeling of drawing someone in and pushing them away at the same time. The title track and ‘Annual Moon Woods’ are gently hypnotising odes to not knowing.

Sonically it’s also a playful album, one that melds together weird and disparate sounds. So amid the electronic gadgetry, wetted rags dripped on tin pots and slowly deflated balloons are just some of the sounds you’ll hear. At other times it brings to mind Drum’s Not Dead tribal sounds.

There’s also room for their most throbbing dance numbers yet – ‘His & Mine Sensations’ and ‘Brats’ are dancefloor bangers from a parallel universe.

With ‘WXIXW’ Liars have created an album that immerses you into its world, a headphones record that is at once both their most accessible and their most challenging, revealing new layers after every listen. Unpredictable, in the very best way.