Music Features

The Liars' Plaster Casts of Everything

The press release accompanying the Liars new single seemed to indicate that a major change in direction was being unveiled. Angus Andrew said he "never felt like a songwriter until this album". Uh oh. As a convert to the Liars unique brand of musical primitivism, I was genuinely anxious about previewing the new single, "Plaster Casts of Everything". Would Angus be crooning power ballads? Engaging in old school guitar heroics? I put off listening to the single for days after I received it. I had finally found a group of artists who were actually trying to say something in a completely unpretentious way, the only way rock can handle a statement, and now they were going to blow it.

Well, I'm happy to report that the new single, and the two songs backing it up, bear no resemblance at all to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn". The drums are still propulsive, the guitars are still refreshingly repetitive, and the vocals still resemble a tribal chant, but there is one striking difference. The guitars are actually playing a RIFF, a two-note chromatic riff that sounds as purposeful as anything from Jimmy Page. Not only that, but as the song develops it reveals a chord progression! Yes, you heard that right, a series of chords strung together in a seemingly non-random way, with yet another riff playing over the top, completely in tune.

In an article where I proclaimed the Liars to be the best working band in the world I commented that they had achieved a pre-musical music, reproducing man's first leanings towards musical expression. Looked at in this way one could say that the new single is a tiny step towards more structure and ornamentation. It's as if they were satisfied with their template of primitive music and now felt the need to move forward slowly, mimicking a possible form of our early development.

Or maybe they need to stay where they feel comfortable. It's impossible to assess this new direction outside of the context of the whole album, but it could be that they are simply distrustful of songs that require intellectual rather than simply emotional construction. So any move made in that direction has to be slow and taken with caution. Either way, I'm glad to report that the essence of the Liars remains intact; the passion, the angst, and the simplicity that permeates their best work has not been abandoned.