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Liars - TFCF (Album Review)

Thursday, 31 August 2017 Written by Jacob Brookman

Over 17 years and six albums, band members have steadily left Liars’ ranks. Following the lukewarm response to 2014’s dance album, ‘Mess’, Aaron Hemphill departed, leaving musical director Angus Andrew as the last Liar standing.

The result is ‘TFCF’, an album composed in the isolation of the Australian outback. It is a complicated record, offering the huge array of textures and ideas that Liars fans might expect, but the tone is drastically different from before.

This record is mournful and Andrew seems to be offering an elegy for the creative relationship’s passing. The full title - ‘Theme From Crying Fountain’ - appears to give credence to this.

Actually, the album recalls Blur’s ‘Think Tank’. It is another record on which the absence of a band member (Graham Coxon in that instance) appeared to be both a thematic consideration and a practical hurdle. They are both empty-sounding records that wallow in that hollowness and maybe even use that sensation as a kind of apology.

That said, ‘TFCF’ retains the rich, surreal humour of earlier releases. Cliché Suite is a tacky funereal procession, leaning heavily on samples and odd SFX to create a spooky, directionless dirge, while Cred Woes marries spiky old school synths with camp, smashed snare drums. It’s somewhere between Prince and Frank Zappa, with a little bit of Beck thrown in for good measure.

The album also has some surprisingly delicate arrangements, given that Andrew is leaning heavily on comic samples and under-quantised loops. No Help Pamphlet is marvellously rendered; opening with a scratchy, hostile guitar riff that is softened with muddily layered vocals and cuddly synths.

For all the experimental chaos of Liars’ work, it’s easy to undervalue Andrew’s talent here. The way different musical elements are balanced is one of the best things about ‘TFCF’, and it would be truly interesting to see how he applies this to outside projects.

The standout moment is probably Coins in My Caged Fist - a clicky, rhythmic departure that features a defiantly comic middle eight. Its production is similar to mid-career Thom Yorke, and while this song is more knockabout, that quality has immense spiritual power.

The capacity for silliness that Australian artists sometimes bring (think George Miller or Angus Young) is tangible here. It’s explosively intellectual in a different way.

Liars Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri October 27 2017 - LONDON Heaven
Mon October 30 2017 - BRISTOL Lantern, Colston Hall
Wed November 01 2017 - GLASGOW Art School

Click here to compare & buy Liars Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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