Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Matt Oliver, Mastering by Sam Patlove
It's funny that Liars' front man Angus Andrew brings up the written work of Bret Easton-Ellis as he's attempting to describe what the song "Overachievers," from the band's latest full-length, "Sisterworld," is about. The Ramones-paced and formulated song is essentially the tale of the privileged and spoiled multitudes of Los Angeles - a city and a demographic that gets explored rather intensely on the record. These people - "the young and unaffected" as Andrew labels them - are racked with boredom, surrounded, literally, by nothing that entertains, stimulates or inspires them all that much. They have positioned themselves for a lifetime of wearing a dopey face and being unimpressed by anything. They've bought their houses, filled them with cats and as big of a screened television set and sound system as they can buy and shut themselves off to life outside themselves. They've quit their jobs so they could spend all of their time walking through the forest - an act that doesn't necessarily put them at all in touch with nature, nor is it seen as any kind of pampering or quality of life improvement. It's just the acts of a checked-out generation of stupid youths deciding to be insular and unproductive artistically or intellectually. The trees and the outdoors do nothing to help this as they've found a way to rapidly reach a point where they can be blissfully soulless, or perhaps more fairly - depthless, without much hope of a reversal. They are the careless victims of stagnancy, of a false sense of worth, though they seem not to give themselves any possible recourse for gaining worth. Many of the characters and scenarios that Liars explore in their music - from the "orchestral breaks intended to provide moments of clarity in which losing your mind is either embraced, or support (no matter how ill intentioned or unconventional) is found" in "Here Comes All The People," to the "chilling note from the piano that summons a dark sea of tones and clipped beats for a scary trip inside the mind of sickness," in "Drip," the band continues to assault the conventions of emotion and how they can be woven into various sounds to provide a commentary on contemporary living and the degeneration of society. They continue to be one of the rawest and most interesting bands alive, with a taste for not only writing such poignant and thought-provoking analysis - and latching on the cold shells and barren gestures/actions of so many today (a life's pursuit for the grim and unsparing work of Ellis), but also with a taste for still allowing the words and music to claim some fascinating right to not be discouraged outright. Andrew tells us that "Overachievers" is "a jarring assault on the everyday," and that's where he keeps his line of thinking focused, on all of the most obvious, infuriating and crippling tendencies of his peers and, in a lesser way, his elders - though there's more of a biting commentary reserved for the unmoved and checked out loss of his peers. They should be better. They should be less stupid. They should not be governed by their impartiality or the slack gawker, the drained observer. They should realize that they actually are filled with blood and it's alive. They should realize that they can change face and "Sisterworld" is a spooky, but indicting reminder of these things. It rips this generation new holes, in a grab bag number of ways, putting it all in a tripped out rock and roll beast of an album that calls out all of the posturing bullshitters and demands that they look at the new holes that have been ripped.