Despite industry logic, the breakthrough of Nevermind was no fluke; the indie underground network that had been one of the most artistically flourishing (and economically impoverished) music communities of the 1980s was rapidly gaining mainstream attention by the early ’90s. Thankfully, Goat had come out in February 1991, which meant that the Jesus Lizard got the proper recognition before music coverage became overwhelmed by the fallout of Nevermind‘s September release.
Liar was also well timed; it came out in October 1992, after the flurry of critical and commercial shifts that grunge’s breakthrough produced, but just when underground talent was starting to get more respect than ever. That made Liar less of a victory lap than an introduction to the world at large how much one of Nirvana’s seminal influences still had to offer.
Beginning with “Boilermaker,” which wastes no time (literally) in unleashing its fury, the album continues with a mix of masterful rhythmic rock, furious guitar noise and even more furious vocals. It was probably the Jesus Lizard’s most accessible album (in the same way strangling is a more accessible form of murder than throat-slashing). It has some of the best tracks the band ever recorded: “The Art of Self-Defense,” the band’s most danceable track in “Puss” (if you don’t mind dancing to a song about sexual assault), and “Zachariah,” an Enrico Morricone score set to punk, which somehow has not made it onto the soundtrack of Jim Jarmusch or Alex Cox movie yet. “Puss” was released as a split single with Nirvana’s “Oh the Guilt,” the first new song Nirvana released as a single after Nevermind, which only helped build the Jesus Lizard’s profile. It reached No. 12 on the U.K. singles chart.