Live: WIXIW Were Back in Sisterworld Yet? Liars, Scala.

"I think one of the most interesting things about doing the live show is that even though I think it's kind of common knowledge that we make a lot of pretty different sounding records, when you start to put together a setlist comprising songs from those records it sometimes becomes clear just how similar those songs are to each other. I can definitely see how a song from our second record [They Were Wrong, So We Drowned] could've been on WIXIW, for example." Those were the words drooled from Angus Andrew's mouth when I spoke to him around two weeks ago and, as the gloriously hellacious Broken Witch closes out the encore of tonight's London return for Liars, I can't say I'm quite in agreement.

It is then, and only then, that Andrew emerges out from behind a veritable wall of gadgetry; then, and only then, that insanity reigns supreme. Most pertinently, Liars are at their best when playing the part of semi-professional, and with it mildly petulant nudniks than they are introverted tech heads. And as they depart, Andrew flashes his palms before his eyes as though a tormented being straight out of one of Guillermo del Toro's dark fantasies. Ultimately, we've spent too little time tonight covering our ears from the sheer abrasion anticipated; an abrasion that is, alas, only momentarily achieved.

That's not an issue to affront Bobby Krlic who, under the enigmatic guise of The Haxan Cloak, performs something of a juggling act with our internal organs. Devastatingly loud, disconcertingly ATP (it's a Tuesday, and not fuck knows when come the weekend; this is the Scala, and not a dilapidated holiday park, etc.) and perniciously hefty on the bassier end of things, his is breakdown music of the best possible variety.

It's with those thoroughly brutalised ears that I first heard They Were Wrong, So We Drowned – Liars' enticingly dismal '04 sophomore. And, as the skittering jitter of Octagon gently bangs the eardrum, it becomes wildly apparent that such days and sonics are no more. Or not for the time being at least. Within that very same interview aforementioned, Andrew avowed: "With all our records, once it's finished we get pretty antsy to move on and figure out something else", thus the stylistic shift assumed in the piecing together of WIXIW will doubtless only be temporary yet given that this, and its title track above all, tonight come across as vaguely off-kilter softcore disco truly disorientates. It may be the desired effect – again to reference Andrew's two week old words, they intend the live experience "to be really jarring for the audience" – although it's nowhere near as effective as previous endeavours. Sisterworld translated to a quasi-apocalyptic raucous live; the type hammered out of the jagged, shattered windows of the last chance saloon, and yet aside from a greatly reinvigorating Scarecrows On A Killer Slant that comes at a point at which we're in great need of reinvigoration midway through, it is all but neglected. This feels like Liars playing it safe, and it's distressingly safe to say that as such their impact diminishes exponentially. It's almost as though the once unerringly conflictual have not only matured, but also mellowed. And to see Andrew anchored to his machinery as opposed to barbarously thrashing himself about as though the unhinged filament of a bulb the size of a small moon is somewhat saddening. Forget Pan's Labyrinth; this is Pan adhering to the conservative expectancies of adulthood.

"I don't know what that song was, but it was something" he at one moment intones from beneath his customary mop of dishevelment tonight protruding from, of all attire, a suit. A pertinent inquisition, indeed. Substantially more defined, however, is Brats: all too rudimentary on record, it is here imbued with auxiliary menace as it crackles with vim. It is arguably the solitary instance within WIXIW at which the brash abandon of their past is equilibrated with this present forged of synthetic patches, as it is tonight ransacked of its slight mundanity to be instead reinforced with an indisputable majesty. It's an intriguing transformation, not least in that it again illustrates the symbiosis of Liars: not only does each LP sound entirely unique, but every song is played out differently live. One senses they'll sound different every last time they're aired.

Flood To Flood, similarly, profits from this intricate hybridism, with a reversion to the recent infusion of electronics paramount. Although simultaneously inundated with the sound of guitars rusted with neglect, it's another example of Liars at their most beautifully brutal. Loud and languid yet somehow tighter than Julian Gross' whites, it sublimely counterbalances the brooding minimalism of Who Is The Hunter to follow. This is what Andrew was wittering on about when we were deliberating over diligently compiled setlists and such. Its clicking grooves introduce kinetics on the floor where once were but statics, with screened visuals of out-of-sync fly-on-wall rehearsals bringing both bewilderment and beguilement in commensurate measure.

These visuals – very much in keeping with their Amateur Gore Tumblr – dictate the mood pretty rigorously: as they within the Scala become increasingly excitable, the visuals begin to jiggle; the shiny, shiny electropop of No.1 Against The Rush comes accompanied by scenes of Andrew in darkness, his face illumined only by the bluish glow of a laptop. Discernibly Kraut-y under the shadow of dankness, it comes across as a bona fide after hours number and it's enlightening to see that they've evidently regarded it thus. This insight into how Liars deem their every composition is invaluable to the avid obsessive and, as they deconstruct the studio within which we've observed them urinate against walls branded with that newfangled, hollowed out logo (We Fenced Other Houses With The Bones Of Our Own) and scoff Chinese takeaways (The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack) to the demonic tones of Plaster Casts Of Everything, the show transcends the now and begins to straddle times and medias as it already may styles. This projection directs the three men below its magnetising glow like a malign puppeteer, dictating their every move. Although why malign? Well, after a little over an hour, they're off elsewhere, completing the transition from existence in a realm of pure electronica to another, one may assume, dominated almost exclusively by overindulgence.

Liars have always been an esoteric act, although it must be said we've come to know and love them as a rather more involving live proposition. That was due to their puerility and, in maturing, some of that identity has been corroded down. The riffs and rabid whoo's of Broken Witch elucidate this with a crystalline transparency. And, just as WIXIW didn't really work out in the mid-afternoon sun I'm as yet unsure of its impact in the dark. Perhaps it is purely too introspective a record? It's undoubtedly a highly nuanced and complex mechanism – that much has always been self-evident. However, we're tonight dutifully informed that it's one that is yet to be configured to its fully working order by its mechanics. WIXIW would remedy that sooner rather than later, Angus.