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No band in history has played with the concept of identity quite like the Residents, who since the mid-'70s have been playing a guessing game with the world about who they are, who they are not, and what that might mean. The Residents have been particularly interested in such things since 2010, when they dropped their trademark eyeball masks and rebranded themselves as a trio of three grotesques -- Randy, Chuck, and Bob -- giving themselves a radically different public persona after more than 30 years. 2018's Intruders isn't exactly a self-reflexive meditation on the notion of identity, but it's more germane to such things than anything they've released in quite some time. Intruders is a song cycle in which 11 different characters struggle with troublesome doppelgangers and pesky spirits who may be real or may be figments of an overactive imagination.or even different facets of their own personalities. Telling the stories of fascinating eccentrics has been the Residents' stock-in-trade for a long time, but Intruders takes the game to a new level, as the various narrators struggle not just with their outward images but with other voices and images that look familiar and utterly foreign at the same time -- especially the man watching both himself and a mirror image lurking outside his window wasting away in "Good Vibes." Intruders not only has a different narrative spin than a typical Residents album (though the wordplay is very much their own), but the music leans less toward the bent angles of their usual melodic style into something that's a bit more tuneful yet full of subtle menace. This is particularly true when bursts of forced cheeriness rupture through the soundscapes, and shards of guitar noise poke through the churning digital backgrounds. It would be misleading to say Intruders is a radically groundbreaking work in the Residents' canon, but it does offer enough new wrinkles to demonstrate that this invisible creative entity is still capable of creating fresh and fascinating work, and their ability to execute them is as sharp as ever. They deserve to be congratulated, whoever they are. Or whoever we are. ~ Mark Deming

  • Genre: Ambient
  • Format: Vinyl
  • Released: 10/26/2018


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