cone magazine

Review: Liars + Happy Meals – The Lantern, Colston Hall

Liars - Cone Magazine

Liars continue to take old genres to new lengths whilst also shaking up their own sonic foundations.

The Lantern could be regarded as the treasure trove of Colston Hall’s multi-venue building. Acting as one of its prized features, its intimacy is not one limited in size and grandeur, with bands from all over the world preferring its aesthetic and clean sound over many other central venues.

Glaswegian synthpop duo Happy Meals proved to possess a sonic kinship with their show-mates, but were much more light to the touch in their output. Originally hailing from Dumfries and Galloway, Suzanne Rodden and partner Lewis Cook play an additive line of minimalist European house, with Rodden’s fragmented French lyrics giving the songs their compositional anchor. Cook’s live manipulating of samples proved to follow disjointed, spontaneous patterns, akin to Angus Andrew, though their fluidity still took a certain precedent. A particular highlight were the sparked dark undercurrents omitted by Rodden, as she mingled among the crowd, swooping on lone dancers or couples sitting to the side. Unable to understand her words, I imagined they were somehow either steeped in mysticism or rage.

Followers of Liars since its inception 17 years ago would surely commend the group’s ability to constantly reinvent itself. With no two albums sounding the same, you can be sure that seeing them live at any stage will always involve new elements. Adorned in his Angus-style wedding gown (replacing a full-length dress for a white singlet and skirt), the story of TFCF (Theme for Crying Fountain) is a break-up record of the musical variety.

Incorporated into their extended set was a melange of noise rock and post-punk cuts, each bound to Andrews’ constant rearrangement of the tracks through just a sampler and a couple of pedals. There was an instant recognition of talent for the other two members, who managed a larger band’s sonic weight on their own, without much room to breathe. Viewers were taken on an explosive journey through propulsive punk-rock, rooted in electronica and a constant drive to shape shift. Songs from the last three records were thrown into the same pot. With equal measures being spread throughout, the set evoked many emotions: aggression, rage, freedom, love. It’s this richness that is undeniably at the heart of Liars’ operation, both in mind and in practice; what makes them even better is knowing that this could change dramatically at any moment.     


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