Liars’ leader Angus Andrew, has finessed his junkyard studio for their tenth album, The Apple Drop.
He stands stilt-high at the foot of the stage, the lone founding member of the slapdashing oozerock band. Released in May by Mute Records, The Apple Drop is Liars’ third album since original members, drummer Julian Gross and guitarist Aaron Hemphill, left individually. This time multi-instrumentalist Cameron Deyell and drummer Laurence Pike have joined the lineup, giving the needed heft to Andrew’s writing. The result is the most cohesive put-together album since at least Mess in 2014.
It’s been four years since the last Liars release. The last two outputs, TFCF and its strewn together sequel, Titles with the Word Fountain, were largely Andrew’s experimental finagling. Both are still trip-balls blackhole interesting listens–a forced electronic sprawl pillowing around Andrew’s yelping–the sound of a band being stung by a particle exploder, but they end up on the lower totem of the discography.
The Apple Drop finds Lairs more on track, though maybe with one wheel off, scraping out sparks.
The opening set of songs are the most straightforward thrusts since their self-titled 2007 album. “The Start” fizzles in like background mirage music for a waterslide park commercial. Then someone throws a toaster in the pool, summoning instrumental spirits along a sleepwalking rhythm. Andrew is slackjawed in a backwater dripping dream. He beckons with his usual rocky toad in the throat tone.
The single “Sekwar” matches the cave-dwelling trance of its video. A rhythm of running light to light in an unknown darkness as the fatty synth barrels through your cavernous ears. Andrew sings like Lurch against a slow prowling rim shot on “Star Search.” He plucks on an antique piano against a bellyache of synth hits. The tornado of sound swirls. He sings out, falsetto unleashed.
Andrew discovers the freedom of ignorance on “King of the Crooks.”
“Now that my hang-ups are gone,” he sings, “I can be guilty-free me.” The slow-surfing sixties guitar & drums get splashed by orchestral flare-ups. “I won’t be worried today / I’ll open windows at night / And take the milk out the fridge / I’ll tell my parents a fib / of pardoned felonies,” he sings before turning on the haunt for the final line. Andrew has one of the more unique voices in music today. He bends pitch and can shift from sweet to spooky in a single line. On “Acid Crop,” during the refrain, “Idle time can kill,” he holds out the last note like a weather warning siren. Somewhere a breeze enters the room. He howls, roars like wind, yelps like caught roadkill, but can also croon, inhaling Sinatra’s ghost with each breath.
All the adventure-engineering of the past two albums leaks around the crevasses of Andrew’s songs. Liars’ sound has always been one of constant evolution, sometimes mid-album. With The Apple Drop Andrew continues the mission of extracting lopsided melodies from the rawest materials available.