Angus Andrew seems to be wrestling with something profound and unsettling in his relationship with himself on this tenth Liars album. “They told me I’m a juiced up, worn out sad sack / I can’t figure out what I’m trying to do here, except stand around and be a dick,” he sings on ‘Sekwar’, while muscular drumbeats and ominous digital scribbles whirl overhead. The song only seems to get darker the longer it lasts, as does the album around it.
The first truly collaborative Liars album for some years, The Apple Drop makes strong use of avant-garde drummer Laurence Pike and multi-instrumentalist Cameron Deyell’s incendiary energy, but it is hard to shake loose from the notion that we are listening in on some dark soul-searching. “People are born, now they all long to die again,” Andrew sings on ‘Slow and Turn Inward’, a track that unfurls itself slowly like a gradual realisation of some harrowing, pervasive universal truth, a little like a demonic version of the Newton apple story to which the record’s title seems to allude.
Between the strained, manic mood of ‘Star Search’ and the jittery paranoia of ‘From What the Never Was’, Liars show that even after two decades, they are still capable of urgent, intense musical expression, still hungry to find new ground to mill. There may not be anything to match the career high spots of ‘The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack’ or ‘Mess on a Mission’, but Liars continue to quietly amass one of the most compelling bodies of work in modern music.