While in previous incarnations, West’s alienated and fragile vocal has battled with jangling guitars and distortion, Liberation sets free his woes and ruminations into space. Taking inspiration from the heyday of Mute Records, the beginnings of electronic dance music’s rudimentary sampling, R’n’B and sound art, Liberation’s debut LP is 10 songs of the road, about the nameless ghosts on the highway, love, alienation and freedom or the lack thereof.
Beginning with a curveball, Liberation’s first vocal sets out the position of the forever-cuckold, the sad lover hanging on: Looking For A Lover combines a Linndrum’s loping mid-tempo with creeped-out synth lines as West intones his intentions close to the ear. Continuing in a more baroque manner, Move Me makes astounding use of string samples and space, with esteemed engineer Mikey Young’s (Total Control / Eddy Current Suppression Ring) production prowess making for a distilled yet inviting loneliness. Forget is the night-drive centerpiece of the album, a 7 minute that erupts into a nihilistic sub-disco darkness. A constant theme of Liberation is the friction between West’s characters: a frustrated love in victim-status paired with a menacing intent. The adorable, fragile stalker in the moonlight, illuminated by Whatever You Want, a subjugated protagonist offering what they have while the city burns. The brightest pop moment of the album has this in abundance: Cold And Blue, a classic synth pop jam to be played on repeat til the end of time, like New Order played by one man in his bedroom, with no drugs for a cushion: “She’s coming down the stairs, she looks like a perfect fear and I’m a monument to your existence.”