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LA art-rockers Liars went electronic on 2012’s WIXIW, a downbeat, anxious album in the tradition of former touring mates Radiohead’s Kid A. On Mess the LA trio shift direction with admirable results.
Opening with the sinisterly playful “Mask Maker”, in which a distorted voice issues bizarre instructions over muscular electro, the tempo is faster and the tones more glowering. Industrial beats piston away forcefully, synths chatter, drone and bleep while sonorous vocals recall a darkened club somewhere in Sheffield or Hamburg in the 1980s.
An edgy air of unpredictability hangs over proceedings, with the album veering off towards the end into the eerie nine minutes of “Perpetual Village” and the anti-new age music of “Left Speaker Blown”.