Reinvention has never been an issue for Liars over the past decade and with this, their sixth album, they continue to expand on their always disturbing yet ever-changing sonic palette. Opener The Exact Colour of Doubt – the calmest track ever to come out of the band, which is quite something in itself – demonstrates this perfectly, riding in on a swathe of ambient synthesisers before frontman Angus Andrew’s voice is gently ushered in through some bare percussion. Although this is a mission statement of sorts – guitars are mostly eschewed in favour of nervous, Radiohead-esque analogue synth twitches – it’s a disarmingly serene opening gambit.
This is a Liars record though, and their signature macabre aesthetic swiftly returns with the opening bass hit of Octagon, an unnerving number that pulses in and out of focus, proving a suitably dark background for Andrew’s slurred vocal delivery. It couldn’t be more of a contrast to it’s precursor, as the ‘i’ll never let you down’ sentiment of The Exact Colour of Doubt is immediately belittled by Octagon’s omission of ‘believe me, i will break your heart’. Clearly then, this is a structuralist album, and centrepiece of title track WIXIW is every bit palindromic as it’s name suggests. Built around an unrelenting synth line, it begins modestly before morphing into a full-blown affair, complete with tribal percussion and added electronic layers while retaining a metronome-like quality. Liars are still primarily a dance-punk band though, and the tripped-out stomp of recent single Brats is a reminder of this, piecing together a Frankenstein out of the remnants of LCD Soundsystem. Whatever the mood, Liars tackle it with confidence and panache.
It’s certainly not the greatest record in their back catalogue, however there’s something to be said for the way in which WIXIW’s hypnotic drones slowly unravel upon repeat listens. Liars might owe their longevity to their adaptable nature, but bands that are this comfortable with such drastic stylistic changes are entirely deserving of our time and attention.