We Are Scientists: Barbara (Music | Review | The A.V. Club)

We Are Scientists: Barbara | Music | Review | The A.V. Club.

We Are Scientists perform at The Social, Thursday, October 21st, 2010


For a band that shares its name with a Cap’n Jazz song, We Are Scientists sports a pretty straightforward sound, channeling any emo impulses it might have into well-polished, tidy little dance-rock tunes. And really, frontman Keith Murray seems more comfortable when he’s flaunting his bad-boy skills and blaming things on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol than when he’s letting his emotions get in the way. (Really, lines like “Although it may seem unconventional / sometimes indiscretion is worth a try” sound better atop a catchy groove than under a pile of unhinged post-hardcore.) Barbara is the latest addition to the New York outfit’s solid discography, and if things seem kind of familiar around here, it’s because the trio hasn’t bothered to fix something that isn’t broken. (One change is that WAS has a new drummer, and proving how much bigger the band is in the UK, it’s an Englishman named Andy Burrows, formerly of Razorlight.) Highlights tend to emerge around elevated tempos, including the ones found in “Nice Guys” (which, in an emo twist, sounds a bit like The Get Up Kids circa Something To Write Home About) and the Killers-esque “You Should Learn,” though WAS also pulls off a nice mid-tempo move in “Ambition,” whose guitar hook brings to mind Fleetwood Mac’s “As Long As You Follow.” Dance, pop, and you don’t stop.