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Liars

They Were Wrong, So We Drowned (Mute)

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After months of drooling anticipation from fans, Liars have unloaded a large, mysterious object into the dying fire of pretentiousness. And while it is moderately intriguing to hear those flames crackle again, it is doubtful that either fans or haters expected a sophomore album as stubborn and obtuse as They Were Wrong, So We Drowned.

Liars' debut, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, an arguable classic, was not exactly accessible either, but its precocious concoction of bizarre art-funk freak-outs, wonderfully detached lyrics and that infamous ESG sample distinguished the band from 2001's dance-punk crop, setting it apart from the Rapture and !!!. The fact that Liars recorded such schizoid fire in two days meant that a more invested follow-up would constitute the stuff of rock dreams or, given the album's much-publicized theme of witchcraft and human sacrifice, fantastic nightmares.

Instead Liars have focused on covering up the critical pigeonholes of yesteryear, and by doing so they have misplaced much of what made them so compelling. From the opener, "Broken Witch," a pointless pipe beating, to the dire drive of "Hold Hands and It Will Happen Anyway," nothing here flows with spontaneity.

This flat-lining numbness tries to complement the litter of Wicca-babble, but rarely is it exciting or effective in conjuring such spooky ambience -- or any ambience. Before birds inexplicably begin chirping in the last minutes, cabin fever brought about from sheer boredom has set in. Who knew Liars had it in them?

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