Photo: Zen Sekizawa

Liars Continue to Experiment with Solitude and Broken Relationships on ‘Titles with the Word Fountain’

Liars quickly follow-up 2017's TFCF with TWTWF, a sparse, ambient set of tracks that continues Angus Andrew's experimentation as the sole remaining founding member of the band.

Titles with the Word Fountain
21 September 2018

Only a year after the release of Liars’ eighth album TFCF, the band returns with Titles with the Word Fountain or TWTWF. Recorded in the same sessions as TFCF and the second album directed solely by remaining founding member Angus Andrew, Titles With the Word Fountain retains the former album’s style and substance and steeps it in a punk attitude that rejects coherent structure in favor of ambience and experimentation. The album further levels edgy and disjointedly loud music with repeated sonic vibrancy and jarring vocals set alongside quieter, reflective pieces. Played together, TFCF and TWTWF present two episodes in a new direction for Liars, retaining the stylistic cues of previous albums and embracing the solitary direction Angus Andrew now conducts.

A year ago, TFCF or Theme from Crying Fountain, reveled in its status as an effective Angus Andrew solo album, after the end of the creative writing partnership shared with Aaron Hemphill. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and Australia and put together as a reflection of the end of that relationship, with the shocking album cover depicting Andrew in a wedding dress and meant to reflect his bride without a groom status. The resulting album was emotional and revealing, true to the band’s avant-garde and restless jump into many musical forays, while disquieting and disjointed in its presentation.

With Titles With the Word Fountain or TWTWF, Andrew has pieced together more recordings from the same sessions for TFCF and delivered a far more revealing exploration into the mindset he occupied in the wake of the end of the partnership with Hemphill. If TFCF was the initial reaction to the divorce, it retained a modicum of coherence, while TWTWF erupts as a sequel reacting against the realization of the end of the relationship and turned inward to a darkness that segues dramatically between fear and soliloquy. Many of the 17 tracks on TWTWF clock-in under two minutes and with minimal vocals, as if barely built upon from initial recordings or tangential ideas. This aspect effectively captures the composition of a stylistic and thematic sequel, per Andrew’s preference in considering the album as revealed in interviews promoting the quick follow-up.

Lead single “Murdrum” is by far the most accessible track and commits a grounding in pop music sensibilities while retaining the atmosphere of dejection and experimentation on TWTWF. However strong the track acts to introduce the album, the depth comes in much of the instrumentals that provide a bleak yet appealing soundscape. Repetition frequently occurs on TWTWF to drive home the solitude felt by Andrew, but additionally offers experimentation that builds the emotions highlighted and explored across the bulk of the album. “Left’s Got a Power Right Hasn’t” and “Past Future Split” are two tracks build on vastly different repeating sequences, and dramatic changes feature new musical patterns as well as deeply recorded vocals paired with wailing high-pitched choruses. Similar structure occurs rampantly on TWTWF and delivers the raw components necessary to evoking emotional reality.

Andrew’s interviews promoting TWTWF point to these qualities and the music on the album as “unclear” while building on the trauma depicted by TFCF. Tracks like “Extracts from the Seated Sequence” and “Sound of Burning Rubbish” feature strong instrumental melodies paired with screeching sound effects and jarring vocal clips that drive home the consequences of the end of a relationship. There is a break amidst moving forward. The band’s split may have been amicable, but the loss of a writing partner has an immense effect. Notably, tracks like “On Giving Up” reveal that aspect directly with a strong musical progression and vocals that repeat the reality of that sentiment.

The album’s closing track, “A Kind of Stopwatch”, revels in a recovering instrumental pattern with Andrew’s despairing vocals. It doesn’t return to any recognizable element that evokes a full recovery from the trauma now featured across two albums but serves as a glimmer of hope for whatever occurs next. Rain, wildlife, and outdoor effects highlight a world ready for exploration and a next step.

Liars’ ninth album TWTWF acts as a necessary continuance of the band’s impressive 2017 album TCFC, while additionally exercising a unique view of sole bandmember and songwriter Angus Andrew. In keeping with the bride theme featured as the artwork for TCFC, on TWTWF Andrew is featured as six separate wives in the album cover, all with variances in size and pose on the front, and a rejected seventh member included on the back cover (this reveal is also included in the video for “Murdrum”). While enjoyable as an exercise documenting negotiation of solitude and the end of a relationship, it is virtually impossible to ignore the brevity of tracks and incoherent aspects that become apparent across the album and in repeated listens. To further drive home the sequel defined status, a deluxe edition for TWTWF was released digitally, pairing the new album as a “deluxe edition” for TCFC.

RATING 6 / 10