Strangely honest and yet immediately ironic, these are descriptors that come to mind when thinking of a band name like Liars. When you take an Album like Drums Not Dead, you know that you are in for a listen that also could fit that description. Liars are one of those bands that are creative, creative in the sense that artistry pervades every single aspect of their record, not just the songs. Thumbing through the records track list I come across songs called Be Quiet Mt. Heart Attack! and A Visit From Drum and Its All Blooming Now Mt. Heart Attack. Then I look at the album cover and I see a few of those song titles sprawled out sloppily on a piece of band like a high school kid might do and I come to the conclusion that a lot of thought was put into this record. There must be some sort of formula, put x amount of thought into a record and get y amount of thought out of a receptive audience, where y is greater than x and x does not equal zero. Another issue arises though; does putting too much thought into something limit the accessibility of a record? I’m going to go ahead and say yes on that one. While there are some groups that have a rare ability to take creative song writing and musicianship and spoon feed them to people in a way that anyone could potentially come upon and enjoy (I’m looking at you Neutral Milk Hotel), Liars is not one of them.
What is it that sets Drums Not Dead apart? Is it the fact that at any given point on the record the guitar player is likely to only be playing one note over and over again? Is it the fact that most of the songs melody is derived from the drums? A simple answer to that question would be yes on both counts. A more complicated answer looks at each track, it breaks down the factors that contribute to the strengths and weaknesses of each song, and then comes to the exact same conclusion that I came to earlier. When it comes to art music there is always the give and take of originality and listen ability, and while this albums tendency to lean away from accessibility may not be getting it any radio air time, the albums intellectual swagger is more than enough to make it worth coming back too.
It would be hard to hide the fact that this is not Liars most recent album, but it continues to be one of their most unique. Listening to some of their other albums it is hard to imagine that all of those sounds were crafted by the same band. Each album achieves its own special uniqueness, its amazing that they have been so consistently good and so consistently different. The fact that Drums Not Dead still remains on top of the pack considering how good Sisterworld, their self-titled and WIXIW have been is just another testimony to how good this album is.