Liars - They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top (Cover Artwork)


They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top (2002)

Blast First/Mute

Before I start the review, let me establish that Liars doesn't care what some music critic thinks about their shit. They don't care about you, the loyal listener. In fact, they don't seem to care about much of anything, besides crafting aggressively agitated yet danceable avant-punk. This album will rock until you bleed, then keep on rocking. In fact, it'll keep rocking until the fuckin' nasty ending, but that's another story for another time (read: a later paragraph).

'Everybody yeah / in his or her own life / needs a hobby,' lead singer Angus Andrews mumbles groggily: an innocent, yawning beginning to a glass shard of an album. He grabs a nice bowl of Cocoa Puffs, showers a little (or, judging by the press photo, doesn't), before chanting 'Can you hear us?', and, subsequently, 'Wake up!' and continuing another day of obliterating musical preconceptions. Liars plays what is essentially bass-driven, danceable art-punk rock. Pat Nature lays down vertebral bass beats which primarily serve as an anchor for Andrews' ripcord voice. Drummer Ron Albertson contributes hi-hat-heavy drums to the mix for further foundation, accompanied by guitarist Angus Hempell's drumkit. The drumkit adds even more of a robotic, mechanical tinge to music that already sounds like assembled shards of metal from the industrial junkyard.

Liars demonstrate their partiality for long, awkward song titles and danceable beats in the first two tracks, 'Grown Men Don't Fall in the River, Just Like That' and 'Mr. You're on Fire Mr.' The third track, however, destroys what danceable groove they had; 'Loose Nuts on the Veladrome' relies on what is quite probably the least friendly beat I've ever heard. ESG joins Liars on 'Tumbling Walls Buried Me in the Debris, a song split into two halves; one reliant on perky drumkit grooves, the second a brooding, industrial breakdown.

Liars does as much as they can to disrupt whatever flow or routine they establish; just as the listener starts to get into the groove, they disrupt it with an awkward beat or the skeletal remains of a song. This is all done intentionally, of course; Liars doesn't care what you think. In fact, the more pissed you get, the happier they are. This is no more clearly evident anywhere than on the formidable anti-epic final track, 'This Dust Makes That Mud.' This song redefines pretentious. A fantastically industrial beat persists promisingly for the first five minutes, but doesn't stop there. Oh no. The beat continues for a full TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES along the EXACT SAME PATH. The first time I heard it, I listened intently to every minute, expecting a change to surely be just around the corner. I dared the music to change. I started rocking in my chair. My entire life ebbed and flowed; I went in and out of consciousness. I was completely absorbed, in waking and sleeping, with this infinitely curious, no, pretentious, no, DISGUSTING, production choice. How DARE they repeat the same beat for 25 straight minutes? The rest of the CD is only 26 minutes long!

I've never heard anything quite like Liars. They're generating quite a stir for such a pretentious act, but who says they don't deserve it? Few other bands have such an uncanny ability to perfect the love-hate relationship with their listeners. Not to mention their cover art and album title: They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top. Pure, unbridled anger, just like their music. You'll love them, you'll hate them, but somehow, both moments are equally as enjoyable. The entire album is a work of disrespectful art; even the 25-minute-outro. Whether this is sheer stupidity or pretentious genius is for the listener to decide. But no matter what you think, remember: Liars doesn't care. They're preparing their next stunt to make you hate them all over again.

Vocals - 8.8
Lyrics - 7.9
Instrumentation - 8.5
Production - 7.9
Cover Art/Booklet - 10.0
25-minute-repeated-sample-outro: 10.0

Overall score (not an average): 8.5

10.0 - Flawless
9.5-9.9 - Nearly perfect
9.0-9.4 - Essential
8.5-8.9 - Spectacular
8.0-8.4 - Highly Recommended
7.5-7.9 - Impressive
7.0-7.4 - Very Solid
6.5-6.9 - A consistent album with more than a few flaws
6.0-6.4 - Enjoyable
5.5-5.9 - Better than average; not many standout qualities
5.0-5.4 - Nothing special, but nice enough
4.0-4.9 - Listenable; only a few enjoyable moments
3.0-3.9 - Not worth the price
2.0-2.9 - Pitiful
1.0-1.9 - Terrifying
0.1-0.9 - Redefines awful
0.0 - Avoid it like the plague