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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 in a while, possibly because this is the first time they've had a consistent drummer since the With Love and Squalor days. Brain Thrust Mastery'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. We Are Scientists recapture some of the bite of their early work 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 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.

Customer Reviews

Unimpressed

This is coming from an avid WAS fan. I love With Love and Squalor for its catchy riffs, honest lyrics, killer harmonys, and incredible drum parts. I also like Brain Thrust Mastery, as it shows that they're mature enough to produce a well-mastered synth-powered album.
This album looks like they're trying to retreat to the With Love and Squalor style. I have a few issues with it. First, the guitar riffs aren't catchy. With Love and Squalor is full of great telecaster guitar parts that drive the songs. The leading guitar parts here just don't do it for me. Second, the drum parts are bad. Michael Tapper is sorely missed. I'm a fan of simple drum parts, but these are just repetitive. The drummer seems two have two- maybe three parts that he just rotates. And the lyrics just aren't as good as either of the former albums.
I don't like this album. I'm seeing WAS play in Boston in a month, and I'm only praying that they'll play mostly earlier songs. I'll faithfully read their website, watch their videos, and look forward to more music. But this one didn't impress me.

Lack Luster

I love WAS, and this album didn't do it for me. The songs all sound like B-Sides. I'm sure they could make them good live, but this is not an album of theirs that will stick with me.

Best since With Love & Squalor

Barbara brings back what most fans loved from We Are Scientists' earlier album With Love & Squalor. Barbara is jammed packed with short catchy tunes which is exactly what these guys have delivered from the start. These scientists are consistent with making upbeat songs. Yes, Barbara isn't much of a risk or change, but she sure is wonderful to listen to. In conclusion, I suggest you purchase this album for catchy tunes such as my favorites I Don't Bite and Nice Guys.

Biography

Formed: 2000 in Claremont, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

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 released their major-label debut, With Love and Squalor, in early 2006. Although modestly popular in America, the album became a gold-selling...
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Barbara, We Are Scientists
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