We Are Scientists – Barbara
Welcome to our first music review and for the next couple of months we’ll be giving you the latest album of the month of what we are listening to and what we think you’ll enjoy. It’s something a little different for us here so just sit back and enjoy. And you can do is go through each track like we will be doing and see if you agree with the comments and if you agree with that we’ll have myself, Simon do most of the commenting and sometimes we’ll have a special guest way in with some comments and points about tracks and even whole albums. Look for at the end of each month for the album of the month. And starting with July, your album of the month goes to We Are Scientists and their latest release Barbara.
A New York based band formed way back in 2000, originally formed by Chris Cain, Keith Murray and Michael Tapper, with Cain on bass, Murray on guitar and lead vocals and Tapper on drums, the band released a self-made album in 2002 called Safety, Fun, and Learning (In That Order) with notably success but only onto their next album after a few EPs, named With Love and Squalor did their mainstream success begin with huge hits like Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt, The Great Escape and It’s A Hit, three big tunes that pushed the band into the limelight with performances at Reading and Leeds festival and a huge tour supporting upcoming bands such as Arctic Monkeys and Mystery Jets. Sadly in 2007, Michael Tapper left the band, just before the release of the next album Brain Thrust Mastery and with the release the band did not receive the massive outbreak they deserved but did see their popularity rise back home in the US with the single After Hours being used in many television shows and films. We Are Scientists were mainly popular in the UK due to their wacky interviews, their intense live shows with comedy thrown in and their ability to write songs to dance to. And now moving onto their latest release Barbara, a new drummer is found, the former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows, We Are Scientists return to their back to basics charm of With Love and Squalor but bring along their melodic charm from Brain Thrust Mastery, choosing not to have crazy drum beats or heavy guitars but smooth sounds. Barbara sees the band truly show that they deserve more credit and deserve to be recognised, but is it enough for the audience to want this? Well here is a track by track run-through of the album, giving comments about the songs best and worst parts and the album as a whole piece.
1. Rules Don’t Stop
The first track off the album, and a sense of urgency from the laid back band that begin to show off the new drummer, the lyrics are good here and the chorus is typical WAS with the addicted and shouty chorus, one made for the festival circuit. The song breaks down at the end with a nice little bridge which shows a great first tune to start off the show. It’s one cleverly thought out by the band to have a song about not stopping to show the critics they can produce a solid record. Moving onto...
2. I Don’t Bite
A great little introduction smoothly transcends into this track, where it’s a sharp guitar track which mixes in a lovely harmony from Keith mixed with his own vocals, it’s a strange mix but it works and having a fade guitar in the background or keyboard, hard to clarify but it feels like a falling effect that connects with the lyrics a little. Always being witty WAS using their history of creating funny lyrics here to a good use. And the song has a great ending with the band really performing and not having Keith sing. Good little dance tune too. A soft end to match the lyrics, it instantly makes you move your head to the beat.
3. Nice Guys
The lead single with a quirky video the song shows the true definition of We Are Scientists performing a good pop song for the mass audience but at the same time being distinct in doing it. Not my favourite song on the album but it’s a good summer tune where it’s made for a car journey in the sun. A jingle jangle beat to it, it isn’t as strong as the first two tracks but it’s defiantly radio friendly.
4. Jack & Ginger
Now for one of my favourites on the album, a jazz feel to this song which comes in strong with a great keyboard beat which soon follows with cleverly laid guitar and drums with some good lyrics here too. An addictive chorus again where’ll it will soon be in your head and it’s a song which i can imagine being used to describe problems relationship problems or being used at the end of a messy night. The production here is very good.
A dogged down song which starts off sounding like old school We Are Scientists with heavy guitar and drums; a complete departure from the start and soon the dark side of the band appears with the relationship problems taken to the next level. And again they show they can throw together a sing-along chorus, even if it’s a sad song. Well a sad song in the lines of We Are Scientists can offer, talking about sex and how they are only “after one thing”. There almost seems a light at the end of the tunnel too for the song where it seems Keith opens up about how it’s a problem and how he might change, but i doubt it.
Another great song on the album which seems to be hitting up some great tracks from a band coming into their own, and sure maybe it doesn’t have the urgency or the lack of giving a fuck from the first album and it doesn’t have the ballad and skilled lyrics from the second, but it defiantly shows they can take their formula and make good pop songs, something which i command them for, and this song with a nice vocals and again solid guitar and drum work. It’s got a light feel to it which is nice, a good midpoint of the album.
7. Break It Up
A 70’s feel to this song at the start, almost like a Blondie song, quite different and it’s needed before the album gets repetitive. A great dance track in the sense you can dance to it and enjoy it. Sure it’s airy and has nothing really in depth about it, but what you expect from a good pop indie record is songs to put in the background and dance to, have choruses to sing and cheer along to.
8. Foreign Kicks
A complete change from the other songs with a tripped out guitar plucking with a strong chorus of Keith showing he can sing quite well. The drumming is solid as always and the band again carries on with a good range of styles. I specially love the bridge with the lyrics “forget about the summer, it’s over”, a band who seem to have made a summer album about the end of the summer and how they want to move on.
9. You Should Learn
Ending the album on a high, this second to last song starts off like a rocket with fast paced drumming and strong guitar playing where it accompanies the lead singers harmonies in a more effective manner than before, where it seems his voice is key here and that the background music is well, kept to the back. The song does get a bit repetitive towards the end but as it breaks down (a common theme in their song) you see that WAS are great at many things, but it does get a little boring.
10. Central AC
As you can see by the reviews of each track, I’ve become slightly bored by the end because of the repetitive nature and the fact that many songs do sound the same and you just wish they would mix it up a little and when this song explodes open, it’s different and i like it, very reminiscent of the first album and it shows the band leading off into a new direction, well a new direction into the past perhaps? Here’s hoping so!
A solid album full of summer tunes where you’ll be dancing with friends, it will get some radio airplay because it’s very Radio 1 friendly but it won’t push them into stadium filling limelight, but do you ever see this band doing it? I think they are content on performing in large venues, or opening for a big act. It makes sense that keep with this act because it fits the hole missed by so many pop-rock bands, a sense of purpose and who are actually talented and likeable with it.