Album Cover
They Were Wrong So We Drowned
February 24, 2004


I just don't think anyone expected this. Of all the possibilities I could think of for They Were Wrong So We Drowned, this just wasn't one of them. And the Liars are clearly using that to their advantage here - the music plays on the listener being confused as all hell; much of the appeal of the album's first listen lies in simply not knowing what will happen next. Personally, I would have loved In a Trench pt. 2, but They Were Wrong is too fascinating a change of pace to be a disappointment.

As I understand it, the album is a sort of a narrative regarding Walpurgisnacht, a German Halloweenish holiday of yore. The album drips with witchy eerieness; the lyrics deal with witchcraft in a sincere-sounding way, and range from bizarre ("I no longer want to be a man / I want to be a horse / Men have small hearts / I need a tail / Give me a tail") to bizarrer ("We are the army you see through the red haze of blood / Blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood.") While this could have been done so, so poorly were it done in an ironic or goofy sort of way, Angus Andrew delivers with such believability as to make it engrossing, and vaguely terrifying throughout. It's a sort of a New York punk version of Macbeth's witches, borrowing their supernaturally poetic verse but stopping short of iambic pentameter.

"Broken Witch" starts out the album with a perfect combination of catchy and bizarre, simple in composition but complex in ideas. It bears more of a stylistic resemblance to In a Trench than most of the rest of the album, and eases the listener into the change while simultaneously hitting him or her immediately with the differences; it tells us that it's going to be different but also tells us that it's going to be the same. (This latter point is magnified by the lyrics being adapted from "Every Day is a Child With Teeth".)

"We Fenced Other Houses With the Bones of Our Own" documents an encounter between witches and a village of some description, repeating the witches' call, "Fly, fly, the devil's in your eye, shoot shoot", and the townspeople's response, "We're doomed, we're doomed!" That the conflict is sung as flatly as it is loans an eerie tension to the song (much like the eerie tension that dominates the rest of the album), an expectation of a horrible battle or children-snatching/eating scene ("They're taking our children away!", see "They Don't Want Your Corn They Want Your Kids"), that just sort of fizzles out into nothing. A false alarm, the witches pass anticlimactically overhead, which isn't to say it's not effective as all-get-out.

"Hold Hands and It Will Happen Anyway" is the only song that really returns to the style of In a Trench on the album. Here are the expected fuzzed-out lyrics, shouted with infectious urgency; the fuzzed-out guitars, played with infectious loudness; the standard 4-4 dancepunk beat behind it all. The climactic scene in the struggle between the witches and the townsfolk. The closing track, "Flow My Tears the Spider Said", is a slow, organ-driven march with semi-chanted lyrics that, halfway in, degrades into witchly ambience, and we are left to assume that the witches won.

I could go on about how this album is actually similar, in many ways, to their past albums, but this review's gone on long enough. Suffice it to say, the album is admittedly flawed but brilliant, weird and wonderful; a surprise may not have been what anyone expected, but I think it's what everyone wanted. Whether or not everyone wanted a surprise this surprising is debatable, but if nothing else, it'll make you appreciate In a Trench more.

Noah Jackson

Track List

  1. Broken Witch
  2. Steam Rose From the Lifeless Cloak
  3. There's Always Room on the Broom
  4. If You're a Wizard Then Why Do You Wear Glasses?
  5. We Fenced Other Houses With the Bones of Our Own
  6. They Don't Want Your Corn They Want Your Kids
  7. Read the Book That Wrote Itself
  8. Hold Hands and It Will Happen Anyway
  9. They Took 14 for the Rest of Our Lives
  10. Flow My Tears the Spider Said