Liars: They Threw Us All in a Trench

They Threw Us All in a Trench
and Stuck a Monument on Top
Blast First

Talk about jumping out of the gate fast: We haven't seen a freshman effort like Liars' punk rock-cum-dance party since the Red Hot Chili Peppers' eponymous debut in 1984 (pre-Keadis voice lessons, pre-Flea in stuffed-animal britches). In fact, They Threw Us All in Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top is too good to be anything other than a debut album. The mania of Oz-born singer Angus Andrew is not yet fettered with record-exec commercialism, and his scientific bandmates know how to back the feral-minded bushman by filling in the blanks discordantly, reinterpreting postpunk while never trapping themselves into any specific sound. (Who remembers the Warlock Pinchers? Liars do.)

The group began only in January 2001 out of Brooklyn, which makes this album a product of nothing-to-lose genius--and not a half-bad blind shot at bridging the gulf between futuristic art-noise and vintage punk rock. "Mr. Your on Mr. Fire" and "We Live NE of Compton" both have the frantic feel of live action, teetering on the verge of complete malfunction. The album ends with a bizarre track called "This Dust Makes That Mud" that stretches 30 minutes into an infinity--an effect that can only be described as hypnotic. And all nine songs on Trench are like beautiful disconnections, featuring digital debris, muddy bass grooves, and a drummer who hacks skins not to the sound of Liars' music, but maybe to the Coltrane--or god knows what else--that seems to be feeding through his headphones.

The album irritates you just a little on first listen. But hey, so did teething, and that turned out all right. The psycho-punk aspect of Liars' music is not exactly new territory, but the quo-bucking Generation Y will find this release fresh and real just as surely as the old guard will cry out, "At long last!" Without a doubt, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top is the most refreshing album of 2002.

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