In the material accompanying Liars, guitarist/lead vocalist Angus Andrew says: “If you told me last year Liars would release a record like this, I would have laughed.” What he means is: Coming off the heels of 2006’s critically acclaimed and hauntingly frightful Drum’s Not Dead, never would the three-piece imagine they’d make something so different. Which is strange—up to this point, they’ve consistently changed styles, forms, and lineups, shifting from their dance-punk origins to a more hazy, atonal, atmospheric rock. Opting for such weird shit leads to strict polarization (see 2004’s critically reviled They Were Wrong, So We Drowned)—there are Liars lovers and Liars haters, with really nothing in between.
This is a band that can make extremely challenging albums and knows it. But Liars isn’t so different after all, expanding on the brooding, angsty mood that Dead established. “Houseclouds” is a repetitive, marching synth anthem, the chorus “I won’t be gone” uttered over and over and over; paranoia-funneling tracks like “The Dumb in the Rain” and “Leather Prowler,” by contrast, aren’t catchy at all. There’s a newfound “looseness” here, too; their sound and lyrics had previously been highly correlated throughout an album. But no concept here makes Liars even harder to “get”— a “Here, chew on this for a bit, you’ll like it, we swear” feeling of dread and uncertainty, the one characteristic the band’s never abandoned. A masterpiece? No. Disturbingly solid noise? Sure.
Liars open up for Interpol September 14 at Madison Square Garden