Liars – WIXIW (2012)

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While Sisterworld was about creating internal dimensions to deal with the rigors of the outside world, Liars’ sixth full length is about using the process to deal with what lies within.

The Los Angeles-formed band has never trafficked in the easygoing and has never been content to repeat methods, so it stands to reason that WIXIW represents yet another oblique, complex, confounding piece of work. “If we aren’t confusing ourselves with what we do, then we’ve failed,” says Angus Andrew (guitars, vocals). “By that standard, WIXIW is a success.”

The title, which can be articulated as “wish you” for those so inclined, is considered a palindrome by the band. The “word” may be invented, but the conception of denying reality and clinging to wish-making permeates the disc.
Andrew, Aaron Hemphill (percussion, synth, guitars) and Julian Gross (drums) provide a record that is cloaked in conundrums and awash in confusion. As alluring as some of the pieces are on a melodic level, Liars are never content with just providing beautiful sounds and the progressions meander about with all the bells and whistles of good laptop music.

Whether it’s the sub-bass or the clipped beats or the whirling synthesizers, Liars have composed a worldview with this record that is challenging and somewhat depressing.

“Whenever you say ‘I wish’ about anything, you’re denying the reality of the situation you’re in,” says Hemphill. “The more you try to wish and fantasize something into existence, the more you fall into a self-destructive state. It’s alluring, but impossible to get out of when you’ve gone too far.”

WIXIW is that step too far, that alluring design that ultimately leads to ruin. In a way, that’s a rather enlightening concept for a modern record to take. And in a way, that makes what Liars are up to a bit more nebulous than necessary.

Consider the songs to be sonic traps. There’s the lazy wandering of “A Ring on Every Finger” to go with the bass-heavy near-disco of “His and Mine Sensations.” Or there are the hooks of “No. 1 Against the Rush” and the industrial clatter of “Flood to Flood.”

WIXIW is a web of machines, programs, noises, and audio distortions. It is sometimes nearly funky and sometimes nearly catchy, but it’s a difficult record to sink into on just one listen. This isn’t a collection of songs with a few radio-ready singles set for loud volumes; this is a cataclysm of despondent drifting, one without a real beginning or a real end. One of, perhaps, wishful thinking.

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Jordan Richardson

Jordan Richardson is a Canadian freelance writer and ne'er-do-well. He also contributes to his own Canadian Cinephile and Canadian Audiophile websites. Contact Something Else! Reviews at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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