Anyone who saw Liars cover Nirvana's "Territorial Pissings" during last year's summer tour might have suspected that, despite the seemingly irredeemable freakiness of 2004's They Were Wrong, So We Drowned and 2006's Drum's Not Dead, the New Yorkers hadn't lost track of their more conventional roots. Sure enough, they brought back the rock on their most recent effort, last year's eponymous LP. Not to worry, though: Led Zeppelin, they ain't. Despite the fact that Liars is more accessible than its predecessors, it's still not particularly accessible — mostly because the group uses pop and rock the same way unrepentant outsiders like This Heat, Chrome, Indian Jewelry, Pere Ubu and especially the Residents do — as both a foil for the difficulty of their stranger ideas and a setting for their music's truly alien emotional content. Like past outings, Liars is slippery, disturbing, unconventional and a terrible tease. It's also absurdly ingenious.


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