Liars have never been a band comfortable with staying in one place for very long. Geographically, personally and most of all musically, each successive album that they release comes with a new agenda, a new heritage, a new set reference points and a new way of thinking about music. After the multimedia multitasking of 2006's Drums Not Dead, Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross have returned with their most stripped back and direct album yet.
When your debut record breaks musical rules faster than the world can make them, what do you do next? For Liars' singer Angus Andrew, multi-instrumentalist Aaron Hemphill, and drummer Julian Gross, the immediate answer came in the form of narrative experiment (2004's They Were Wrong...) and multi-media exploration (2006's Drums Not Dead). On the heels of these, Liars' eponymous record dives headlong into digestible, radio-length pop and rock structures, made all the more listener-friendly courtesy of mixing touches by longtime Erasure/Depeche Mode producer Gareth Jones. The blistering riff of lead single "Plaster Casts of Everything" opens into danceable electro-workouts ("Houseclouds," "Freak Out") and straightforward rock numbers ("Cycle Time," "Clear Island") galore. Make no mistake: Liars retains every last acrid drop of the feral energy that made the band famous, but replete with ubiquitous pop elements--verses and bridges and choruses, oh my!--Liars' new aesthetic bares an approachable underbelly with a surprisingly humane, almost welcoming, sheen. Floating along on Andrews' falsetto, the organ-drenched closer, "Protection," sounds almost tender, leaving the impression that the future may yet unmask the fact that Liars' veneer of misanthropic noise was, from the outset, always the band's ultimate deception. --Jason Kirk