The NYC trio Liars have never given listeners a chance to get comfortable. Looking back over the electronic left turns of 2012’s “WIXIW,” or the hyper-rhythmic self-discoveries of 2006’s “Drum’s Not Dead,” it’s hard to believe this is the same band that came racing out of the gates in the standard-issue tight jeans of 2000’s post-punk revival. Knowing what to do with one’s freedom is no small luxury, and on “Mess,” the group deftly submits to the forms and tropes of electro-pop and vintage EBM. “Pro Anti Anti” cribs a pulsing organ from early ’90s house and smothers it in grinding electro; “Boyzone” strings a skeletal throb over shuddering synths; and “Mask Maker” edges close to Meat Beat Manifesto territory. And when all this time travel begins to get touristy, the second half of “Mess” starts tearing its palette apart. Like Liars themselves, “Mess” hints at one itinerary and takes you somewhere else. (Out Tuesday)
Michael Andor Brodeur
ESSENTIAL “Mask Maker”
Liars play Brighton Music Hall May 10.Michael Andor Brodeur is assistant arts editor at the Globe. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.