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Liars:: Drums not dead (Album Review)

Liars have always flattered to deceive, but while their white hot gigs continue to slay all comers, Angus Andrews and his miscreant druids have never quite managed to replicate the excitement and sheer raw energy they convey in the live arena onto record. Until ‘Drum’s Not Dead’, that is. While there were mutterings that this might be a more commercial record, it is of course nothing of the sort, though there is certainly some semblance of the recognisable to cling to here, unlike on the wilfully obscure 2004 witch concept album ‘They Were Wrong, So We Drowned’. Always keen to rip it up and start again (remember this is the man who sacked the first successful incarnation of the band only to come back sounding completely damaged), Angus has delved even further into the very basics of music, utilising the instinctive and often terrifying primal drumming we’ve come to associate with Neanderthal and Cro-Mangon man. And while there are plenty of apes out there already making stupid music, it’s Andrew’s keen intelligence that’s brought him to where he is, an awareness that musical progress can only be made ultimately by returning to and embracing Mother Earth.

If you enjoyed the primitive nature of single ‘It Fit When I Was a Kid’ then the likelihood is you’ll love ‘Drum’s Not Dead’ and its unbridled, feral oddness. ‘Let’s Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack’ is more of the same only more so; featuring ghostly vocal echoes and aboriginal didgeridoo madness, it is a thrilling, percussive masterpiece that threatens at times to take your spirit out of your body and send it on holiday. Conversely ‘Be Quiet Mt. Heart Attack’ (the replication of Mt. Heart Attack through the song titles is a conceptual nod to the album’s two characters, ‘drum’ and ‘mount heart attack’) is a less urgent offering, though the Velvet Underground-inspired noise and snare combo make it no less intense. The variation continues with ‘Drums Get A Glimpse’, which as the name suggests offers little in the way of percussion, relying instead on the shimmering and hypnotic instrumentation and Angus’ enigmatic, doubled-up vocals, featured throughout the record.

This is music that relies entirely on feeling, and while not for everyone it is music at its most impulsively, spontaneously creative. If you’ve not given Liars a go before then isn’t it time you tried dancing to a different drum?
(Jeremy Allen)