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Liars (Mute)

In the material accompanying Liars, guitarist and 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 haunting 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 dance-punk to a hazy, atonal rock.

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. In contrast, paranoia-funneling tracks like "The Dumb in the Rain" and "Leather Prowler" 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 not having a concept 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 has never abandoned. A masterpiece? No. Disturbingly solid noise? Sure.

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