When shit happens, the last thing you want to do is write a music review. With parking fines, uni ball-busting and hangovers in the mix, any kind of logical thinking is all but possible and I’m not sure if I can trust myself to write anything even close to a readable review. However, once listening to We Are Scientists’ third full length, Barabara, opening track Rules Don’t Stop puts an end to my self-indulgent misery.
The album liner notes don’t help with my wallowing either – the ‘We Are Scientists’ Rules of Romance’ guide leaves me in stitches for its utter brilliance (and stupidity). I’ve seen W.A.S. live and as much as I loved their music, what impressed me most was the hilarious onstage banter – these guys are funny! And there’s nothing better than paying for a music gig and getting good stand-up as well – just check out their website for evidence.
But back to the music: Rules Don’t Stop is similar in style to signature tracks from the duet’s first two albums. It’s “rock music of the thoughtful, sometimes epic, often loud, vaguely danceable, implicitly humanist variety,” as they call it on their website. In my current state of mind the lyrics of the repetitive chorus, and ultimately the message of the song, “rules don’t stop me”, are favourable.
Nice Guys is also a standout track. Its catchy chorus is, in my view, a tribute to nice guys (coz they don’t always get the girls, but usually should). Upon inspection of their website it turns out that We Are Scientists, nice guys Keith Murray and Chris Cain, made a video of the song. It involves a scooter, a camera, a kid, lots of stacks and slightly incorrect karaoke-style lyric subtitles. This video would make karaoke a whole lot better.
Closing track Central AC also grabbed my attention for its upbeat intro and psychedelic, but short, guitar solo towards the end. It’s almost-three-minutes of pure, unadulterated indie pop and a great kick-your-heels-up-and-dance finale to an album that’s, on the whole, pretty good.
On the downside though, Barbara is ultimately a slow-burner. After the success of the vastly interesting first two albums, With Love And Squalor and Brain Thrust Mastery, the tracks on Barbara sounded a bit same same-ish on the first listen. It took a bit more concentration to recognise the subtleties in the songwriting that both make the tracks interesting and are signs of the maturation of We Are Scientists.
They’ve been making music for a decade, so it’s only natural that they should have evolved by now. But, unlike a good wine, they aren’t better with age – just different – because their first two albums were so bloody good (have you figured out by now that I’m a giant fan?). If you too are a fan, I reckon you’ll enjoy Barabara, especially after giving it a few plays to let the sonic complexities sink in. If, however, you’re a W.A.S. virgin, never fear because despite being pretty good music, I can guarantee that it’s a brilliant mood lifter.
First published in Beat magazine