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“DD Review: Liars – The Apple Drop.”

Score: 10/10

Typically, there are four different ways I get wind of new music releases, to be considered for review on this site. One, and the one that occupies like 98% of the pie graph, or so, is Bandcamp. One percent or so is The Fire Note, a half a percent or so is accounted for by, like, “general media” — Vanity Fair doing some story about St. Vincent’s wardrobe, or something along those lines. The last source can be equally the most frustrating and the most rewarding — it basically amounts to when a band is so ingrained into my psyche that I just naturally think about them as a development of the day, start to organize an interview of them, look for news stories and happen to see, Oh, they have a new album out. 

And no, I’m not blaming any particular party for being faulty in their promotion of this new album — I probably haven’t been paying close enough attention to music news to be this professed “blogger” figure I claim to be. But this time frame of narrowly discovering The Apple Drop before I start finalizing my year-end list does remind me of the really close, epic finishes I’ve been having on NCAA Football ’08 lately. Hey, I win again. We’ll go with that. 

Seriously, anyway, and this probably isn’t shocking, but this music just seems great for fall, or dark, still, heathen-type days longing to be filled with strange, angular melodies of the heart, after its April release, as it were. “The Start” embodies just that right away at slot one, and beautifully enough, showcasing well Angus Andrew’s new development of… gasp… BANDMATES, with a gorgeous bass/guitar/organ attack that gives each instrument its own distinct sovereignty and listenability. “Slow and Turn inward” has that classic eeriness of last album’s “Face to Face with My Face,” on a functional level, and plots down a deliberate, purposeful masterpiece of quintessentially Liars minor-chord-gloom and tension that seems like something satisfying and even cathartic in its deafness to convention and absorption of Liars primordial. “Sekwar” opens with that extra-unsettling rhythmic bass technique of bringing it to the fore of the mix and letting it echo and vibrate like some big animal-sound type thing. Luckily, this technique isn’t overused, and the music continues to morph and roll along like a sperical ball of what we all know we’re getting from Liars, by now, when we turn them on. 

Shiny, treble-lying organs drape the chorus of “Star Search” beautifully, before what sound like a bevy of random noises issued from a sampler give the song a bolstered vibe of what strikes as equally psychedelic and futuristic. By this time, it’s clear that the addition of bandmates Laurence Pike (drums), Cameron Deyell (keyboards) and Mary Pearson Andrew [1] (lyrics/production) has benefited the project and given Liars some serious muscle to do some musical weight-lifting and flexing of ideas. “My Pulse to Ponder” outlays a full, rich guitar/synth attack to cement the song’s groove as something memorably textural and hypnotic. 

I’ve been looking at some of the reviews for The Apple Drop online and they’ve pretty much all been positive, so I guess I don’t need to go on some maniacal crusade sticking up for this band the way I would about, say, Fastball or the Fine Young Cannibals. Ultimately, again, anyway, The Apple Drop is poised to go down as an endorsement of plurality and multiplicity within bands. Just yesterday I had this vision of the members of 311 showing up to the studio like it was high school band practice, playing their parts off a sheet of paper and then leaving. The Apple Drop doesn’t strike me as this kind of enterprise at all — it speaks volumes of open jams and the healthy, democratic germination of musical ideas, especially since no one player or instrument seems to ever dominate the proceedings for more than about a minute at a time. Every song is balanced and multifarious. So for this reason I’m going to slot it as a superior album to TFCF, which was a solo effort, obviously. Beyond that, it’s just another great Liars album, and I’m not really going to get on a soap box and compare it to Liars albums of antiquity, each of which seemed special and magnanimous in their own way, with very few exceptions. Plus, I mean, I don’t want to admit to being that obsessed with Liars, and stuff. 

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[1] Interestingly enough, both Discogs and Allmusic offer this personnel name and don’t indicate if it’s Angus Andrew’s wife or not, but I’ve a feeling it is. 

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