We Are Scientists are not prepared to do what you want. That much is certain from their albums. They’ve come from a tightly wound feel on 2005’s With Love And Squalor and 2010’s Barbara. Then they picked up a sweet ’80s feel and even split their time with Art Brut on the collaborative mess of last year’s wonderful Wasabi. Now they’ve got Huffy about it.
It’s good to have the NYC duo back. They say they make music that they like and this album is full of expected music. Until it isn’t.
There’s a feel throughout that they sound like another band you like, then another. This is a very good sign.
One of the scientific duo Keith Murray told Aquarian‘ ‘…I think we were listening to a lot of Phoebe Bridgers and Justin Bieber and White Zombie and Selena Gomez‘. That sounds like a back off trying to define us line. This music endorses it.
It crackles with fun and forays into stuff they love and stuff you will too.
So what have they become this time? Well, loads of things.
Firstly, a rushing, fun, Pop Punk in the Garage feel with a toy piano frill ‘You’ve Lost Your Sh*t’, sharp, bouncy and has a guitar poking in at the end.
Good start. What else is there?
It’s followed by ‘Contact High’, which sounds more like US college Indie. It has a Hold Steady feel to it, which is a good thing. It then throws in a big beat and bass with a riff that manages to be both all encompassing and choppy at the same time. It’s very sweet, Murray told Xsnoize that it ‘really nails that heady rush of full throttle infatuation’. It almost says ‘don’t worry, we’ll do what you expect.’
Oh no, never believe that. Take ‘Fault Lines’, where a fuzzy bass and riff is calmed by a bubblegum chorus; remember the Black Kids? One album, ‘Partie Traumatic’ in 2008 and this has their enjoyable, slightly off kilter, slightly on the edge ’80s slightly knowing feel. The beat doubles to add bounce and a dirty, dirty guitar is injected to end.
Ooh, there’s Field Music, they’re hanging around in ‘Sentimental Education’. The bass is beefy, the sticks slap, the synths are thin and the ’80s are all over this sweet treat. They hold hands with They Might Be Giants for a bit of ‘Bought Myself A Grave’. It moves from Country acoustic to Americana with slightly missing beats. Then to a loose limbed beat and squelching bass you can dance all afternoon and a guitar solo with rudimentary scratching—phew!
It doesn’t always work. Sometimes it just conforms to what preppy Pop is supposed to sound like. Quite a lot of ‘Pandemonium’ isn’t, it’s just in regulation. But this doesn’t happen often.
When ‘Just Education’ combines early ’80s New Wave guitars, bleeping synths to add fun and a slight touch of Talking Heads, it isn’t just well observed, it’s a marvellous melange.
It clatters along with ‘I Cut My Own Hair’ and ‘Handshake Agreement’, just to remind us if we rub them up the wrong way they will bristle, but really, this is full of enjoyment.
They’ve tweeted about this album’s many flavours and they’re not wrong, but this is never varied for variety’s sake. It has such enjoyment locked in, just check the video for ‘Sentimental Education’, Yacht Rock looking and actually on a yacht.
This is great to spend time with – it also never forgets that people like ’80s Pop and Indie at the moment, so that’s all over this album.
They Are Scientists? Not in a lab, this was made on a bouncy castle.