Recordings: Liars — Drum’s Not Dead

Liars should get an award for best musical reaction to critical consensus. They answered the ass-kissing surrounding their masterfully gritty dance punk debut with the dissonance and monotony of a concept album about witches. Critics vomited. Rolling Stone, Spin and the Guardian (yours truly) gave They Were Wrong So We Drowned the lowest rating, condemning its arhythmic noise and vacant field recordings while lamenting the development of an outfit once praised as prodigal.

With Drum’s Not Dead, Liars shove those past failures of vision in our face. The concept alone — it’s about two competing energies: creativity (Drum) and insecurity (Mr. Heart Attack) — continues the experimentalism of their past work. The band’s fascination with jarring and grating has dissipated to reveal a sublime appreciation for negative space. Oddly spare rhythms pulse at a lush distance. Guitar backdrops float by organically, the elements occasionally cresting in hurried, dissonant conversation — vocalist Angus Andrews’ ghoulish falsetto lingers in the foreground as the disconcerted voice of Mr. Heart Attack, while dry, thunderous toms speak for his companion. Like Liars’ last work, Drum’s Not Dead challenges one’s nominal expectations. Now, their daring motifs and gorgeous expanses show they’re worth the endeavor.