Review Summary: The tricky second album from the American indie rock group ultimately falls short due to over ambitiousness and the loss of their drummer.
We Are Scientists second effort is distinctly mixed. Amongst some of there best tracks lie a few fillers, and even a couple of tracks that I wouldn’t even merit the title of filler to. Beyond this however, is an alright album for, what is a diminished version the band that made With Love and Squalor.
We Are Scientists Are:
-Keith Murray: Guitar and lead vocals
-Chris Cain: Bass Guitar, backing vocals
(N.B. The drummer on this album is unknown, it’s a possibility that a drum machine could have been used. When they toured the UK recently Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders played for them.)
With Love and Squalor was a very fine debut from the Manhattan based band, full of good, occasionally great tracks, all with catchy choruses that would stick in your head for days. Their second proper album however, doesn’t deliver the same effortless vividness that their debut did. Stifled by the overawing synths and with many down beat, self depreciating lyrics, many of the songs feel forced and as a result unnatural.
The album gets off to a slow start. ‘Ghouls’
is uninspired and very dull. The lyrics are bland and downbeat and the phrase ‘We all realise that I’m the problem here’
is repeated too many times to have any emotional impact on the listener. Unfortunately, the negative lyrical theme continues throughout the album, by no means in every song, but it is still a theme that is too prominent in this album, especially as it doesn’t fit into the We Are Scientists image.
The drumming on With Love and Squalor was satisfactory; Michael Tapper did what was expected of him, with the occasional time signature change and off beat. However he left the band halfway through the recording of this album and boy do they miss him. The drumming on Brain Thrust Mastery is uninspired to say the least. Pretty much the whole album stays in 4/4 time, and the band really miss Tappers off beats and nuances.
Another element that does this album no good is the overuse of synths. In their first release a few synthetic beats may have in fact improved the music if used correctly. Although I will merit the fact that the band has attempted to change their music style somewhat, regrettably I feel that they have gone from one extreme to another. The overused synthesizer just doesn’t suit the We Are Scientists style, and as a result, some of the material suffers. An example of a track that is ruined by the excessive use of the synthesizer is ‘Tonight’
, a track that could have been OK without the constant bass beats in the background. However, this is how the track is presented, and because of this, is one of the worst tracks in the bands catalogue.
Amongst all of this, however, lies some real gems. The two singles are brilliant and ‘After Hours’
boasts the best vocals on the whole album. The other ‘Chick Lit’
is the best track on the record and the only track where the synths add to the intensity of the music.
All in all this sophomore album from the New Yorkers ends up somewhat short. Amid arguably some of their best tracks in the two singles is a lot of material that needs work. This album screams out for a few more ‘Cash Cow’
like melodies, and would really be best without tracks such as ‘Ghouls’
. Evidently, the loss of Michael Tapper hurt the band, but it will undoubtedly hurt the fans even more, as this needs a lot of work to get up to the high standards they set themselves when With Love and Squalor was released.
- The two singles Chick Lit and After Hours
- The band attempt to change their style somewhat, ultimately at a cost, but show they still have the potential to release something exciting.
-The majority of the lyrics
-The dominating synthesizer effects
-The tedious first track Ghouls
Overall: 38/100 = 2.0 Poor