released June 15th, 2010

from the album - Jack And Ginger

from all music

Although formed on the West Coast by three California-based college students, We Are Scientists officially took flight after frontman Keith Murray, bass player Chris Cain, and drummer Michael Tapper relocated to Brooklyn and began building a small, devoted following. After releasing three EPs and one independent album, the group signed with Virgin Records and releasing their major-label debut, With Love and Squalor, in early 2006. Although modestly popular in America, the album became a gold-selling hit in the U.K., where the band's sound — part post-punk revival and part indie rock, with a touch of '80s synth-pop — drew parallels to popular bands like the Editors, Franz Ferdinand, and the Killers.

In 2008, the group — which was now just a duo comprising Cain and Murray — put out their second full-length album, Brain Thrust Mastery. As before, the record found more popularity overseas, where it debuted at number 11 on the UK Albums Chart. The band toured heavily in support, playing a number of European festivals and opening shows in America for Kings of Leon. As We Are Scientists prepared to record a third album, former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows joined the lineup, and the revised band unveiled itself with the release of 2010's Barbara.

album review

Barbara introduces We Are Scientists’ new label and new drummer -- and a mix of the approaches the band took on their two previous albums. Joined by former Razorlight skins man Andy Burrows, Keith Murray and Chris Cain return to With Love and Squalor’s guitar-dominated style, but keep Brain Thrust Mastery’s slick production style. The band sounds more focused than they have before, which is a blessing and a curse: this is certainly the band’s most cohesive music, but Brain Thrust Mastery showed We Are Scientists could handle everything from synth-punk to jangly guitar pop with dramatic flair. That album’s strummy single “After Hours” feels like the template for many of Barbara’s tracks, including “Rules Don’t Stop,” “Nice Guys,” and “Break It Up,” all of which are bright and breezy with appealing melodies, but come too close to being interchangeable for comfort and lack the energy of the band’s early work. However, We Are Scientists recapture some of that spark with “Jack and Ginger”’s stylish dance-punk, which shows that the Franz Ferdinand and Killers comparisons still hold true. Elsewhere, the band embellishes a little on this formula with “Ambition”’s soul-pop and “Pittsburgh,” a ballad with lush, soft rock harmonies. The album gets better as it unfolds, with the bouncy, chiming “Foreign Kicks” -- whose title must be an homage to how much the song sounds like the French Kicks -- and the dynamic “You Should Learn” and “Central AC” providing late-in-the-game highlights. Barbara shows that We Are Scientists know what works for them, and even if it never quite breaks the barrier between pleasant and great, it’s almost always enjoyable.

Track Listing

1 Rules Don't Stop Cain, Murray 2:18
2 I Don't Bite Cain, Murray 2:48
3 Nice Guys Cain, Murray 2:56
4 Jack & Ginger Cain, Murray, Rechtshaid 3:23
5 Pittsburgh Cain, Murray 4:27
6 Ambition Cain, Murray 3:15
7 Break It Up Cain, Murray 2:57
8 Foreign Kicks Cain, Murray 4:00
9 You Should Learn Cain, Murray 3:04
10 Central AC Cain, Murray 2:42