Review of Barbara Album by We Are Scientists

Having seen original drummer Micheal Tapper leave at the end of 2007 on the eve of a UK tour, We Are Scientists have used, Libertine Gary Powell, and later Adam Aaronson to fill in, before former Razorlight stick-wielder Andy Burrows took over rhythm section duties last year. A renewed focus, perhaps, for their new material, albeit written in the shadow of their 6-episode TV show 'Steve Wants His Money' debuting on MTV.

From October to December last year, Chris Cain and Keith Murray were seen taking a radio porno idea to Edith Bowman at Radio 1, and trying to persuade Alphabeat to be the brand image for their alcoholic drinks for toddlers. Amusing to some, maybe, but clearly with minds on other things, a second series of 'Steve' is apparently imminent, it remains to be seen if 'Barbara' will prove a return to early form.

Released at the start of April, first single 'Rules Don't Stop' serves as the album's opener. Tense verses over jangly guitars contrasts the hopeful relief of the chorus refrain 'Rules Don't Stop Me / Forget About It/ Rules Don't Stop Me / We'll Get Around It.' More 'With Love And Squalor' than 'Brain Trust Mastery,' it's WAS a la 2005. One half geek-chic, the other unorthodox rule-breaker.

We Are Scientists Barbara Album

'I Don't Bite' follows, combining a driving beat with punchy guitars it paves the way for latest single, 'Nice Guys.' A beat driven, sun-drenched number, 'Nice Guys' follows the WAS script, juxtaposing biting lyrics sung with a perfect LA smile. 'This isn't a trick / So stop over thinking everything/ Just finish your drink / And stop over thinking everything.' The result is a pop sound written and played with summer in mind. At least they're enjoying themselves. Ultimately however, this is 'Barbara's' peak, and it's all downhill from here.

'Ambition' is a dark and brooding self-appraisal and reflection over a lost love. 'Part of me is screaming / You should just come out and ask her / As if there was a chance in hell / To get me what I'm after.' It's a huge lull before the dancefloor-leaning funk-driven introduction 'To Break It Up.' The vocal is turned up with the sing-along- chorus sure to become a live favourite, but on record it's a little flat. Burrows impresses throughout without ever really stretching himself. Cain and Murray; however, appear to have their minds on a return to TV.

'You Should Learn' begins like the Yeah Yeah Yeah's 'Heads Will Roll,' however the rolling riff disperses behind a tired sounding vocal after a mere 15 seconds. The lyrics to the signature sing-along chorus suggests there are lessons to be learnt as the Nick Zinner-lite riff comes back in and out of focus. 'It's Blitz' this isn't. 'Central AC' could be a single in its own right, but unfortunately the cd has long stopped spinning.

Mark Twain once stated, 'the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter.' WAS should take note, as 'Barbara' is the musical equivalent to wearing a Juventus shirt to St. James' Park. Not a bad effort but in reality there is a risk of getting your head kicked in.


Alastair Thompson

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