Early reviews of Liars’ self-titled fourth album are likely to have some variation on the headline, “Experimentalists retreat to guitar rock.” While there are flavors of Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz pop and even some metal thrash in the album’s mix, it’s a bit simplistic to put such a restrictive pin in such a relentlessly restless band. There are plenty of ways to settle down, you know.
The W. B. Yeats-referencing “Sailing to Byzantium” is surprising both for its laid-back trip-hop tempo and what appears to be a reversal of Liars’ earlier “not too political . . .” mantra.[more:] Where Yeats’s poem of the same name dealt with the indignity of growing old, this song sets its sites on our aging superpower and its apathetic populace. As Angus Andrew coos in his floating Drum’s Not Dead falsetto, “It’s time we wake these dumb fucks up.” Slow motion flow and a ghostly keyboard loop aren’t the most aggressive clarion call, but it might be just pretty enough for subliminal convincing. Jagged percussion and unconventional structures have obscured what this song makes plain; melody has been the band’s secret weapon all along.