PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Liars Academy: No News Is Good News

Eden Miller

Liars Academy

No News Is Good News

Label: Equal Vision
US Release Date: 2001-11-13

Punk pop never truly makes much sense. The spirit of punk and the spirit of pop are at odds with each other. Punk embraces rebellion, the rejection of societal standards in favor of its own. Pop, on the other hand, is all about the masses. It is about playing it safe enough to please as many people as possible. This is where Liars Academy begins to run into its problems. While it is an incessantly likeable band, it seems unsure about quite what it wants to be. Too scared of its own darker emotions to truly be punk, and too image-conscious to flat-out pander to a general audience, Liars Academy has no idea what it wants to be doing as a band. In effect, No News Is Good News is largely forgettable.

The upbeat sound of Liars Academy does give its music a sense of fun, at least in the sense it's good to put on for background noise at parties. Even if a conscious effort is made to listen to it, No News is Good News still has that sense to it. It's doubtful that the band tried to make its music sound fairly indistinguishable from any other guitar-bass-drums band out there, but Liars Academy definitely has pleasing generic quality to it. It sounds familiar, and because of this, No News Is Good News is easy to listen to. It sounds harsh, but that's about all that can be said for Liars Academy -- it is not offensive in any way. You'll like Liars Academy because that's the simplest thing to do.

But this likeability does work against Liars Academy. No News Is Good News is so basic that the moment listeners start paying attention to it, they will find it lacking. The music is just good enough for you want it to be better. Lead singer Ryan Shelkett has a perfect nonspecific rock voice -- melodic enough to get through the songs, with that slightly nerdy edge that almost reveals a well-hidden sensitivity. His guitar work is essentially by the numbers, feedback-riddled here and then mellow there. His band mates -- Matt Smith on bass and guitar, and Evan Tanner on drums -- follow this same philosophy. If they can emulate the formula that has worked for so many other bands, it will work for them too. Liars Academy has adequate talent to produce a good facsimile of every other generic band out there, but it isn't doing anything that hasn't been done before.

While the songs might reveal their individual idiosyncrasies over repeated listens, it's a challenge to get to that point, and the ones that stand out are not necessarily the best ones. With songs like "This Is Your Life, Get Used to It" that sound ripped from the soundtrack to some teen movie, Liars Academy just sounds juvenile. The band has no restraint lyrically, finding a line or two that it thinks is clever and then it repeats it again and again. On "Dreams in Technicolor" the lines "But when we dream in color / It's the same as black and white", which weren't that remarkable to begin with, are sung six different times in a three minute song. Other lyrics are standard, with the common meaninglessness that tries to pass for deepness, like "Night falls and I fall" from "Quarter Life Crisis". Mostly, though, the lyrics are ignorable, and No News is Good News is better for it.

While it does have the mark of "obligatory ballad" on it, "Sell Me a Minute" is the most intriguing song on the album just because it stands out from the rest. There's not much that makes it more than just another sweet little song, but in the middle of constantly bouncily noisy songs, it is a refreshing break. The placement of this song is the one thing that shows that Liars Academy has some sense of album structure and arrangement. Unfortunately, it's the only glimpse of the true ability of this band.

Liars Academy is by no means unbearable, but little about its album stands out. If it managed to set itself apart, then maybe No News Is Good News would be stronger. No matter what talent the band may have, it is completely wasted here. As likeable as the band is, there's nothing to recommend it.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.