For those not already in the know, Liars Academy plays intelligent emo/rock that isn’t whiny.
The Baltimore band’s second Equal Vision full-length is called Demons (a title explained in part by the surprisingly personal message printed behind the CD pocket). The new disc largely remains faithful to the sound introduced on No News Is Good News, although it adds a new depth. Part of this is production – handled by J. Robbins – and part is the band’s own maturation. The music is textured, with a strong interplay between bass and guitar. The addition of a second guitarist also gives the album a more substantial sound.
The songs on Demons are reminiscent of Monroe Doctrine-era Farside, with a classic rock feel not unlike Tom Petty or Elvis Costello (particularly People are Games). "The Accountant" also contains a fuzzed out guitar and swanky bass line which is oddly Clash-esque. Liars Academy remains dogmatically mid-tempo, but occasional glimpses of hardcore roots are evident in a furious drum fills, big riff, or scream. Really, the only problem with the album is that the band seems to consciously avoid becoming too intense. This is particularly evident in the last track, "Washing Machine," which begins with a suggestive guitar part, but never quite builds to the right level. This is unfortunate because the additional range would really compliment the sound, and the band is clearly talented enough to play tuneful music that still doesn’t pull any punches.
Probably the best thing about Liars Academy is that the songwriting and singing are both exceptional, with lyrics that are introspective yet never cringe inducing. For the record, my favorite verse from "Saturday Night:" “Here I am wilted and wasted, the night before. I can still taste it. In my pocket there is a number, I don’t know how it got there.”
Ultimately, Demons may not be punk enough for some listeners. But for those looking for a unique take on emo that wouldn’t be embarrassing to drop on the way back from a Strike Anywhere concert, this is it.