With every release, invigorated both by self-imposed limits and half-baked experiments, Liars discover new aesthetic worlds. Consider the 30-minute dance-punk-to-drone closer “This Dust Makes That Mud” off their 2001 debut They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top. Nothing specific about that song, just you know, that it happened. And chew on the go-for-broke concepts of 2004′s They Were Wrong So We Drowned (witches, dude) and 2010′s Sisterworld (Los Angeles, man).
On WIXIW, the goal is retrofitting the past’s electronic pop and dance presets into rhythmic, art-damaged dirges. Save for acid-squelch rave-up “Brats,” WIXIW‘s songs are all nervous tension and no cathartic release. Imagine the brutal minimalism of Iggy Pop’s The Idiot sharing a slow dance with the transcendent cheapness of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92. As sun-faded synths unfold on opening track “The Exact Colour of Doubt,” you almost expect lead singer Angus Andrew to croon, “I want my MTV.” So retrolicious, and therefore, totally right now. For the first time since their debut, Liars sound of-the-moment rather than out on a limb. That may be the only affront left to savvy listeners anticipating the latest sea change from these puckish, post-post punks.