The Liars
Drums Not Dead CD/DVD
Mute 2006

The Liars' divisive They Were Wrong So We Drowned was a deliberate departure from their original Pop Group-y sound. Jumping ship at the perfect time, the LP stripped everything down to its most skeletal atonal center. And everyone hated it so much that I loved it – not to mention my admiration for the way in which they gave the pigeonholers the finger – and and that this was when that kind of thing was starting to make some serious cash… Whether or not it was your cup of meat – you had to respect ‘em if only for the way they made industry speculators, cheerleaders, and trendoids flee in horor.

Drums Not Dead takes up where They Were Wrong So We Drowned left off - only these compositions are much more involved and well-conceived. Though it’s a paced affair that builds slowly and modally, there’s not a second of extra fat on this thing. Heavy tom thuds and ghosts of dissonant melodies float in and out. If I had to describe it, I’d say that this unique animal exists on its own post-tribal plain somewhere between the kraut and psych. Finally, this is a superbly recorded record with a truly gargantuan sound.

The thematic material is all based on binaries divided between "Drum" and "Mt. Heart Attack." You’ll swear you heard a didgeridoo on “Be Quiet Mr. Heart Attack” – which hums around your ears like a swarm of bees. You also hear Gregorian chants echoing through the dark back hallways. But you definitely hear the Aboriginal instrument during the percussive excitement of "Let's Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack." Angus Andrew’s falsetto is given Gregorian Beach Boy harmonic enhancement on “Drum Gets a Glimpse.” The kinetic “I Fit In When I Was a Kid” is the only song that has nothing to do with “Drum” or “Mr. Heart Attack.” “The Wrong Coat For You Mt. Heart Attack” and “The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack” are beautiful meditations that give wholeness to the collection. “Hold You Drum” and “It's All Blooming Now Mt. Heart Attack” are noisy and ambient – the former based on rigid percussion and the latter on swampy drone. “Drum and the Uncomfortable Can,” with its chaotic feedback over bouncy disco, is the closest this one gets to the old Liars – and it ain’t even that close… It’s much more original.

I’ll just spit it out, Drum’s Not Dead is the best Liars album to date and one of the best releases of the year.

Finally, I wouldn't be doing this package justice without mentioning the generous helping of videos. These songs each appear four times - once in audio and three in video - a dozen songs and thirty-six videos - all for standard CD price. They've really upped the ante for everybody else with this one. Let's see who raises 'em.

Buy it at Insound!


Let's Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack Realmovie

A Visit From Drum Realmovie

Drum and the Uncomfortable Can Realmovie




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© New York Night Train , 2006