After years lying dormant beneath the surface of a mainstream they had once dominated so fiercely, big guitar riffs are finally starting to come back into fashion, starting with the clandestinely surreal sounds of post-punk’s excess ala songs like Andrew Reed & the Liberation’s “Twisted World.” “Twisted World” feels like a cut from the proto-Britpop era sans a lot of the emotional darkness that was at the time quite common among the genre’s most talented budding players, but I wouldn’t say it’s lacking in moodiness at all. It starts and ends with the guitar indulgence, and what this band does with it that so few others are right now.
The lush post-punk influence over the structure of this single adds a worthwhile accent to the material as well as the general performance quality of the players, and I think it’s important to note that most of Reed’s contemporaries would just as soon reject something as over the top in their music. He isn’t just drawing together a harmony with the bulge – he’s making it a centerpiece of the narrative, if not another facet of the emotional storyline he’s putting together through the stoic lyrics in the eye of the storm.
These verses don’t swing nearly as much linguistic weight as we’re initially expecting them to, but this is important in making the whole of the song sound light and airy as opposed to sluggish and bloated. There’s a way to use indulgence to your advantage, and for all intents and purposes, I would say that the Liberation has figured it out rather masterfully in this performance. They don’t sound impeded by their desire to go big and bold but instead empowered to do just about anything they want to inside of this simple, radio-ready pop single.
The substance of the songcraft here is indeed quite the surreal product, falling in line with the trend we’ve been seeing more and more of out of the American underground in the 2020s, but the mixing is absolutely as straightforward as it gets. Gone are the layers of noise from Loveless; this is cut and dry audio, lending itself to the lyricism much more than it does an implied dreaminess better left to our imaginations than to the illustrations of a distorted guitar amplifier. Some might call it too simplistic, but I think it was the right way to go for this day and age in alternative music.
I really like the direction Andrew Reed & the Liberation are heading in at the moment, and if you’re curious why they’ve been getting the kind of underground buzz they have been in the last year, it would be smart to take a look at what they’re laying down in the music video for “Twisted World.” This isn’t your mom and pop’s alternative rock jam, but instead, the result of generational evolution that begins solely with the excesses a lot of others would deem too extreme to be included in a contemporary pop single, and for me, it’s a perfect listen right now.
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