We Are Scientists
Barbara


3.0
good

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
June 17th, 2010 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For better or worse.

Full disclosure: I am a We Are Scientists apologist. Many thought their 2005 sophomore effort (the one that catapulted them into the tastemaking light) was a blatant post-punk rip-off, aping the Rapture, the Killers, Franz Ferdinand, etc. etc. down the line until you arrived at a band with barely any identity of their own. I, of course, ate them up, largely on the strength of their fantastic singles, Keith Murray’s ironic/hilarious lyrics, and Michael Tapper’s ridiculously far-out-of-their-league drumming. The things I came to hate about the band were all there in the beginning though; how the second half of the album lacked anything even approaching the brilliance of the first; how things started to blur together into rapid-fire choruses and busy drum work with no substance and a rented style; how Murray sounded pretty damn disinterested by the time all was said and done. Brain Thrust Mastery toed the same line, with some truly amazing singles (“After Hours” is the let’s’-go-to-a-bar-and-do-terrible-things anthem) and an album that predictably lost steam. Did I still jam out to the first few songs on a regular basis? Hell yes.

Full disclosure: I hate Barbara. I was excited when I heard former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows was set to take the kit permanently for the band, and he is a revelation here, as anyone whose listened to Up All Night could probably guess. We Are Scientists could be just another post-punk band with a clever singer, but like Tapper before him, Burrows puts an indelible stamp on proceedings here, lending martial beats and inventive rhythms and providing a supportive framework that is right up there with The Devendorf. And it’s still not enough. The band has always been able to pump out catchy tunes with ease, but the question must be asked: how catchy does a tune have to be to stay with you? “After Hours” was; “This Scene Is Dead” was; “Rules Don’t Stop” is catchy, sure, but I don’t see it gnawing at my brain for the next couple of weeks. In fact, there’s not a single song here that latches onto you the way their previous singles did, a deal breaker if there ever was one for a band that has long struggled to keep the interest up over the course of an entire album. Murray is still singing about the same things, spouting off late-20s night-life platitudes in “Jack and Ginger” and “I Don’t Bite” that should appeal to the partier in me but fall flat instead. Songs began to flow into one another, mildly up tempo sing-a-longs downshifting into slightly jittery mid tempo tunes about romance, breakups, and drinking. Lots of drinking.

Full disclosure: I love Barbara. Being the We Are Scientists apologist that I am this album has been on repeat for an entire week and I’m starting to fall for it, all its blemishes and interchangeable parts be damned. For one, it’s consistent, something I never thought I’d see from a Scientists record but one that I guess I should have seen coming, considering Murray loves repeating himself. The hooks are there the entire way through, from “Rules Don’t Stop” to “Central AC.” Of course they’re not as good as the band’s earlier highlights, but the sequence of “Break It Up” to “Central AC” is probably the best stretch in their history, particularly the shimmering comedown of “Foreign Kicks” and the addictive chorus of “You Should Learn.” And I’ll be honest with myself – there’s not a bad tune among the bunch, although “Ambition” teeters dangerously close to self-parody. “Rules Don’t Stop” isn’t a bad single – I could think of a number of bands that would kill for a single that catchy, not to mention one as good as “Nice Guys,” or “Break It Up,” or “Jack and Ginger.” This is what We Are Scientists do, and far be it from me to stop them from doing what they do best (and they do it quite well) just because I’m sick of Murray’s shallow lyrics and regular verse-chorus-verse hit machines. Barbara is pure We Are Scientists, and in the context of the band’s discography, it’s hopelessly unoriginal but undoubtedly strong, the kind of record that will either have you tearing out your hair in frustration at a band that showed so much promise or singing along in your car to a CD chock-full of superb sing-a-longs.

My mother always said if two sides can never agree on something, a compromise is in order. 6/10



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user ratings (52)
Chart.
3
good
other reviews of this album
shitakeonice (3.5)
10 years is an awfully long time to be young....


Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
June 17th 2010


10426 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

full disclosure: i'm a little drunk

Digging: Tennis - Ritual In Repeat

SeaAnemone
June 17th 2010


20321 Comments


drunk review? sounds fun. maybe some time I'll try it.

edit: I love the song 'After Hours' but everything else I've heard's been pretty forgettable

Digging: Holy Sons - Lost Decade II

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 17th 2010


15737 Comments


i have not read this review but if it does not have a zach savage reference i swear to god

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 17th 2010


10426 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i have failed you adam

AtavanHalen
June 17th 2010


17927 Comments


Cute review

Dogget
June 17th 2010


781 Comments


I thought this band was ok, but I've associated them with Nick and Norahs infinite playlist ever since I saw that, and I loved that film so I'm pretty excited to hear this.

props on the review too

Fugue
June 17th 2010


7353 Comments


Ooh a new We Are Scientists release. If Brain Thrust Mastery didn't suck so hard I might be interested right now.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
June 17th 2010


20857 Comments


Just thinking aloud... Can "I hate Barbara" be a FULL disclosure, if another disclosure is made about Barbara?

Let's ponder this together.

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 17th 2010


10426 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

mutated i read that review, ghouls is actually one of my favorite songs off that haha

davey don't think too hard

Ire
June 17th 2010


41780 Comments


Great review, man.

Zach Savage says...

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2010


16089 Comments


huh i dont remember when i wrote this review!

Bitchfork
June 18th 2010


7584 Comments


Wait, wait, wait... they're not scientists?! What gives?

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2010


10426 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

John Hanson Comment

Bitchfork
June 18th 2010


7584 Comments


klaptastic (question, do you have the klap? if you do, can you give me the clap? cuz stds are like pokemon to me. i gotta catch em all.)

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2010


10426 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

my lawyer advises me not to answer that question

iarescientists
June 18th 2010


5863 Comments


knew i shouldn't have read the comments

joshuatree
Emeritus
June 18th 2010


3742 Comments


is there a ZACH SAVAGE reference in here somewhere

Bitchfork
June 18th 2010


7584 Comments


my lawyer advises me not to answer that question

That's what they all say.

eleventhsun
June 18th 2010


1475 Comments


The Insane Clown Posse would hate these guys.

Hyperstation
June 18th 2010


146 Comments


wait iarescientists actually LIKES this band?!



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