It's bands like the Jesus Lizard that make me regret wasting my teen years in the mid '90's listening to FM radio-approved drivel, and Liar is one of the main reasons why. Liar is a wild, unhinged piece of punkish, metallic alt-rock, one that obliterated petty genre distinctions at the same time that it exposed the legions of pretenders that were just starting to pop up at the time. Want to know how ahead of its time Liar was? It came out before such boring Seattle knockoffs as Bush and Silverchair had even emerged, to say nothing of the ridiculous throwbacks (this means you, Puddle of Mudd) polluting the scene right now. Of course, being ahead of the curve is a virtual guarantee of going unnoticed by the masses, but then I don't think mainstream success was high on the Lizard's list of priorities.
Anyway, in the grand tradition of Steve Albini acts such as Shellac and Big Black (and yes, I know the Lizard's albums were merely *produced* by Albini, but why get picky?), Liar is assaultive, abrasive, and decidedly in contrast to all things commercial. Melody, good taste, and traditional rock-song structures are thrown right out the window here in favor of swirling collages of noise complete with twisted rhythms and the singular nasal howl of the great David Yow. Opener Boilermaker sets the tone literally from its first second, conjuring up a psychotic atmosphere out of a series of spastic drumbeats, hellish guitar riffage, and Yow's nightmarish chants. The next song, Gladiator, might be even more frightening, with Yow menacingly intoning such oddball lyrics as "You should see her use a gun," backed by a bass riff that hits with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the stomach. On slower tracks like Perk and Zachariah, Duane Denison's creepy-crawly riffs scratch against the surface of Yow's bizarre vocal impressionism, but fortunately the album loses nothing by slowing down because its oppressive atmosphere is never compromised one bit.
So, what more can be said about Liar? Well, unfortunately, not much. This is definitely one album that must be experienced to be fully comprehended. But let me leave you, gentle reader, with this: Liar is a supreme testament to a band that may not have released a classic every time out, but had a singular vision and didn't allow the temptations of fame or money to get in the way. If only more acts had their integrity, I might not have to comb the internet looking for stuff to listen to.