By this point, anyone hoping for a return to Liars' dance-punk days must feel like Eddie Murphy fans wondering when he's going to drop the fat suit and make another Beverly Hills Cop. Still, leave it to the Brooklyn trio to confound expectations yet again with some of its most accessible songs yet. From the opener, "Plaster Casts Of Everything"—built around a punishing backbeat and an insistent, distorted organ riff—to the surprisingly soulful could-be-a-club-hit "Houseclouds" and the trip-hop-aping "Sailing To Byzantium," the experimentalism of They Were Wrong and last year's Drum's Not Dead has more or less been put aside in favor of something much more visceral. Clanging, chant-heavy tracks like "Leather Prowler" and "What Would They Know" are the exception rather than the rule, and they're overshadowed by simpler pleasures like the reverb-laden, Jesus And Mary Chain stomp of "Freak Out." Echoing Drum's "The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack," the arresting closer "Protection" (although it's built on sketchy details like "I would take a Polaroid / You would show me how to drink") is so unexpectedly delicate that it lends neutral lines like "Where are we today? / Somewhere near our future" a touching sentimentality. For Liars, forgoing heady concepts and willful obtuseness—embracing rock music instead of deconstructing it—may actually be the boldest move yet.
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