In the liner notes to their second album, Liars detail how they retreated from the Brooklyn post-punk-funk scene they nurtured with their 2001 debut, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, and holed up in a house deep in the woods of New Jersey to record. There, they researched the history of American and German witch trials, and took long walks in the surrounding forest between bashing away in their home studio. The result, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, truly captures the tension of its circumstances, and it's one of the most compellingly creepy theme albums since Liars' New York compatriots Sonic Youth unleashed Bad Moon Rising twenty years ago.
Liars clearly had both ritual and atmosphere in mind as they made They Were Wrong. The album's cryptic song titles -- "We Fenced Other Houses with the Bones of Our Own," "Read the Book That Wrote Itself"-- set the scene, reading like the apocalyptic whisperings of a village in the grips of paranoia. The songs blend distorted guitar noise, simple and relentless rhythms, and menacing electronic accents into bursts of controlled chaos. These provide a rich sonic backdrop for Angus Andrew's eerily hypnotic chants: I, I am the boy/She, she is the girl/He, he is the bear/We, we are the army you see through the rivers of blood/Blood, blood, blood, he moans on "Broken Witch." The trio doesn't completely abandon its previous path, as tinges of No Wave disco edge emerge through the feedback patterns of "There's Always Room on the Broom" and "They Don't Want Your Corn They Want Your Kids." But as the album closer, the old-world-ish ditty "Flow My Tears the Spider Said," decays into a recording of spectral bird calls and the dark whoosh of the wind in the leaves, you realize that Liars have left you deep in the woods, and it's your turn to be spooked.
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