Yet the new album embraces the type of electro-pop that underpins the catalog of the band’s parent label, Mute. Throughout the early 1980s, Mute Records built its brand on the likes of Depeche Mode, Erasure and Yaz. On songs like “Vox Turned D.E.D.” and “Can’t Hear Well,” Andrew uses his baritone to mimic the icy intonations of these hallmark acts, the gothic synth chord changes of Hemphill and Gross following suit. “I’m No Gold” even finds Liars doing Adult.-esque electro.
Some of the Europop moves on Mess are so spot-on that one gets the feeling that Liars are taking the piss. When Angus Andrew screws his voice down on opener “Mask Maker” to croak “Take my pants off / use my socks / smell my socks / eat my face off,” he sounds less like Dave Gahan or Andy Bell and more like Gibby Haynes of Butthole Surfers. While known for their psychotic take on psychedelic rock, the Butthole Surfers also delivered stylistic U-turns of their own in the ’80s and ’90s, delivering skewered takes on Europop and electronic music. So Liars are at once paying homage to their forebearers and moving forward.
Listen to Mess on First Listen.