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Liars - "No. 1 Against the Rush"
The best time I had covering music this year was the long weekend I spent in Raleigh, North Carolina, seeing dozens of bands at The Hopscotch Music Festival. Liars played the first night, and I entered the hall as they were stuck in mid-Pagan ritual. I've been a big fan of them forever, as my move to Brooklyn years ago coincided with their first run of Brooklyn gigs. I've devoured all of their records with great interest, but honestly, at the height of the furor over their art-punk witchery, I never quite expected them to turn into such consistent album artists. They seemed too wild to last?
Down South this fall, the weird rhythms of their particularly demented old chants came back to me involuntarily, pounding fast like an adrenaline heartbeat. "I...I am the bear....She...she is the girl..." That sort of muscle memory shout along can be transporting, semi-mysterious when you aren't expecting left-field nonsense to start flying out of your mouth.
Since, I've compiled a greatest hits for the band's career, let it switch my brain off for hour-long gym stretches. Their best work, edited down to 60 minutes that excises any lagging album stretches, is thrilling, one of the strongest in recent memory. This year's new record, WIXIW, is quite good in its own right, probably the most subtle and relaxed of their extended run. "No. 1 Against the Rush" is a highlight on it, and an instant greatest hit inclusion. It rounds the band's roughest corners while bringing them to a bright, percolating simmer. You can't really predict which bands will stay with you, which you'll fall out with over time. But with their new work hitting, their old work still lurking, somewhere inside, Liars persist.