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  • Writer's pictureJulian Ramirez

Let's Get Physical: Liars' Mess & "Mess on a Mission"

Our writer Julian Ramirez is a big proponent of physical media, always lauding formats new and old (mostly old nowadays). Whether is vinyl, cassettes or CDs; 4k UHD, Blu-ray, or VHS, he believes that physical media is an important part of preserving art and imbues another dimension of appreciating the work.  This series will focus on some of his favorite pieces of physical media in his collection.

It's that time of year again, when the Record Store Day list comes out and half the vinyl collectors can lament about it being a terrible list full of fluff that shouldn't be repressed and the other half proclaiming it the best list in years! However, that's a post for a different time (probably some time in the next week). But the list being released and RSD being right around the corner reminded me of one of my favorite and more unique RSD pick ups: Liars' single 12in of "Mess on a Mission" from their album Mess (and the album itself).

Special edition cover of Liars Mess

Liars (lead by Angus Andrew and at the time of Mess featured fellow original member Aaron Hemphil and long time member Julian Gross) are a band that is always, without hesitation, changing up their sound with every new release. While that may seem exhausting, there is still a connective tissue that makes every release a product of Liars madness. That said, the album was coming on the heels of  the band's most accessible album WIXIW and Mess was an experimental dip into the stranger side of electronica.

When the album was announced, a very special vinyl edition was also nuzzled in between the standard edition, CD, etc. Nowadays variants of records aren't just the norm, but a necessity for our fiendishly collector times. But then it actually felt special to see a band go above and beyond with a release and Mess certainly did that. The album would be pressed on two clear slabs of vinyl and housed in a plastic casing featuring a vacuum sealed mess of yarn representing the regular cover art. It was a site to behold, a little pricey but something I needed as a fan of Liars (and hopefully the whole album when I preordered).

"Mess on a Mission" was the album's lead single and it's a doozy. High pitched chorus repeating the song's title over glitched out instrumentals that only find reprieve within abstract verses that alluded to the social anxiety about finding clear answers to the questions that fill our lives (and ultimately not being able to). "Facts are facts and fiction's fiction" is another line chanted throughout, which nowadays takes on a more nuance and troubling meaning. Even the music video edges on prescient themes that give it a timely feeling even nine years later. Safe to say, I was all about this album and unlike my cousin who has kept his copy of the album vacuum sealed as a collectible, I opened the the vinyl side of the package and spun those bad boys. Sacrilege for the collectors out there i know, but for the vinyl lovers its a must. The front cover with the yarn is still intact and I got to enjoy the incredible howls of Liars. Safe to say, I was all about this album.

Somewhere in between my pre-order and the release, Liars announced that the "Mess on a Mission" single would see an RSD release that one-ups even the full length special edition release. The 12in vinyl would feature actual yarn pressed into the vinyl. It was an impressive feat and I'm sure plenty of people wrote it off as another gimmick, but it was a gimmick I really wanted. On that fateful RSD I lineup at at Dave's Record (which has sadly closed) with my cousin in hopes of capturing that sought after single. Unfortunately only I was able to grab a copy since I got there insanely early. But the early bird get the worm and all that.

12in single of Liars Mess on a mission

Now, whenever anything is pressed into vinyl there is inherent risk of it not being perfectly contained between the wax and possibly damaging the needle. Add to that the disc was sold in a PVC cover which is a big no-no for the vinyl fans (Remember kids, PVC can cause out gassing when it's touching vinyl and will ruin the disc). Luckily my copy was perfect as can be. Seeing this guy spin on my set up is always a treat and it's one of those records I always show to newbies in the vinyl world to experience just how unique the hobby can get. Like I said before, it may be a gimmick, but sometimes these gimmicks are genuinely fun, interesting and worth getting seeking out.

Liars' Mess is celebrating its 10 year anniversary in 2024 and is being repressed on special colored vinyl. While it may not be these ultra weird and collectible editions (which are out there on Discogs and elsewhere), I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of the new pressings and experience this incredible album on wax.



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