|1. Broken Witch|
|2. Steam Rose From The Lifeless Cloak|
|3. Theres Always Room On The Broom|
|4. If Your A Wizard, Then Why Do You Wear Glasses?|
|5. We Fenced Other Houses With The Bones Of Our Own|
|6. They Don't Want Your Corn They Want Your Kids|
|7. Read The Book That Wrote Itself|
|8. Hold Hands And It Will Happen Anyway|
|9. They Took 14 For The Rest Of Our Lives|
|10. Flow My Tears The Spider Said|
The lyrics are still as absurd as the long song titles, but the use of electronic industrial noise and ethnic beats puts Liars in a similar bracket to German noise-meisters Einsturzende Neubauten, or some of Alec Empire's more tuneful work. You would be hard pressed to dance to any of this, but the album rewards those who are willing to look beyond the harsh surface and enjoy the carefully designed cacophony and bizarre disharmony. Songs like 'If Your A Wizard Then Why Do You Wear Glasses?' and 'They Don't Want Your Corn- They Want Your Kids' are actually quite funky and catchy through the fog of screeching and clanging. Other songs are more noisy, and less cohesive.
So if you liked the first album's catchy riffs and disco-stylings and are looking for more, I would avoid this second album if I were you. If you are of a mind to enjoy some crazy experimental schizophrenic noise rock, you might want to give it a shot.
They Were Wrong, So We Drowned is hard to classify. Noise rock is the best I can come up with. It's a concept album about witches that switches between the point of view of accused witches and the angry townsfolk who persecute them. Guitars rarely sound like guitars, and the atmosphere is created by a good deal of experimenting with variouys instruments and effects. What anchors the album is Angus Andrews, who shows a great range that makes the album interesting even when the instrumentation gets too pretentious. The first single, There's Always Room on the Broom and the song They Don't Want Your Corn, They Want Your Kids both have a fragmented dance punk feel that still stays within the creepy atmosphere of the album. The album's climax, Hold Hands and It Will Happen Anyway, is driven by tribal rythyms and discordant guitar that build then release all the tension built up by the earlier songs. In order to truly appreciate this album, it must be listened to straight through at least a few times. It's really a unique, frightening experience.
The Liars are part of the return to New Wave. They have always had a bit of the Gang of Four/PiL panache emanating from their glands. Throw in some slightly more obscure influences like ESG, who the Liars copied whole cloth on one track from 'They Threw Us...,' and you have the ingredients for this particular cake. Well, 'They Were Wrong...' is not unlistenable, unintelligible, or unprecedented. In fact, I am not surprised by it in any way (neither am I surprised that stodgy ole Rolling Stone Magazine panned these recordings). I will admit that I would have been quite satisfied with an album that followed the formula of 'They Threw Us...' as closely as the latest Strokes mimics their first LP. I am not disappointed in the departure made by the Liars as it is one of degree and, more importantly, it is almost predictable. These guys are art punks with a dance sensibility. Their heroes are Gang of Four, PiL, This Heat, Wire, The Pop Group, and the like (this is an educated guess based on their output). With the exception of GoF, all of these bands experimented widely with their sound on their first few records, especially Wire and PiL. 'They Were Wrong...' follows that tradition religiously. This sophomore effort is very closely aligned with PiL's still amazing third full length release, 'The Flowers of Romance,' which was released by a Warner Brothers label that would run screaming from such recordings in today's far less adventurous majors scene. 'They Were Wrong...' cribs both beats and the general what have you of 'Flowers...' Mix in a bit of the cut-and-paste derring do of This Heat and 'They Were Wrong...' becomes transparent, almost a given. I happen to adore and deeply respect the work of the bands that have provided the Liars with their philosophico-artistic template.I also really like the Liars...
So why four stars? Well, for one, there are not enough actual songs on the record and the soundscape tracks are not particularly interesting or experimental. By another name, 'filler.' Another problem lies in the dearth of guitar. See the above noted comparisons with 'Flowers of Romance' and This Heat. Other than that, this album is a strong effort when allowed to stand on its own in the spaces it seeks out. The Liars rightfully want to avoid becoming part of the entertainment complex that simply sweats to put out product that has a ready audience bleeding mommy and daddy's money. They want to entertain and challenge both the audience and themselves. 'They Were Wrong...' definitely casts its lot with the idea that these types of subterranean cultural strains should keep at least on eye on the ineffable shadows from which they derive. I appreciate that kind of principled independence.
About the music itself? Fuzzed keys, deconstructed and repetitive beats, some of which are danceable, playfully vague lyrics. Listen for yourself, the tunes will speak in their own right and make all necessary comments.
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