That’s Cool Records
The new dark scene that’s been coalescing in Vancouver is nothing if not eclectic. A show featuring, say, Animal Bodies, Koban, and Spectres will be unmistakably drawing upon each of the post-punk, EBM, goth rock, and crust-punk traditions without raising an eyebrow or, more importantly, prompting sneering factionalism from any of the crowd. In short, it’s a good time to be tracking dark music here in Van, and lié’s debut LP is further proof. While Consent doesn’t sacrifice any of the energy or fury found on their early demos and EPs, it adds a colder and more haunted feel which makes the band’s already unnerving songs and themes twist the knife that much deeper.
More than any of those aforementioned bands (Brittany West does double-duty in Koban and lié, BTW) or others currently mining gothy sounds of all vintages, the trio of lié cleave to the formal elements of punk, on paper at least. Tunes like “Broken” flit past with manic basslines and near d-beat drums, and dash past in under three minutes. But within that rushed and ostensibly claustrophobic sound, lié carve out eerie spaces between chords and find all manner of ways to wring drama from Consent‘s 22 minutes. “Capture Bonding” falls into an early Swans drone during the bridge before smashing back in, while “Rat River”‘s advance-retreat-repeat flow feels just like classic deathrock (or newer takes on the genre by the likes of Belgrado) when approached from the right angle.
West and Ashlee Luk’s vocals do more than their fair share of the work, mixing subtlety and cold menace in with the frenzy. The backbiting details of “Success” brings Anne-Marie Hurst’s Skeletal Family era to mind, while the harrowing rape call-out of “Sorry” more than stands on its own without comparison. There’s a violent desperation threaded through each of these nine tracks which makes both the “heading frantically for the exit” pacing and the unsettling subject matter (the abuse and exploitation of women being a recurring theme, if the album art and title weren’t clue enough) feel like the reflection of not just an authentic, but a necessary darkness.
Without resorting to cheap supernatural hackery or fog and strobes, lié have drawn a line between punk and goth more forcefully than any band in recent memory. For their part, lié have self applied the moniker “cold punk”, and that seems to fit as fine as anything else. As mentioned earlier, the stars seem to be aligning as far as receptive local audiences are concerned, and lié have plenty to give them. Recommended.