Given the fact that their single ‘After Hours’ from album Brain Trust Mastery did so well, getting them to number 15 in the charts, you’d think that their label might put a bit more behind We Are Scientists now. Whether it was a one-off or not is still a question up in the air, but their latest effort TV en Francais proves that they’re still happily doing what they do best.
Lead single ‘Make It Easy’ is the sore point in an otherwise accomplished album. They try transparently to recycle the feel of ‘After Hours’ with its medium pace and big chorus pay-off. Nearly every other track has something to make you go back for another sneaky listen; with ‘Sprinkles’, it’s a falsetto melody in the vein of The Shins and the simplicity of the hooks therein.
The album as a whole covers a breakdown in communication, with a romantically involved pair at odds in most songs for one reason or another. Here Keith Murray develops a sharp tongue, almost as good as Morrissey himself, for cutting down other-halves, as ‘What You Do Best’ displays with lines such as: “When I said that you were something else/ I didn’t mean it as a compliment”, and “You won’t just break my heart/ you’re gonna murder it”.
Lacking the punch of previous effort Barbara, it could said be that these guys are due to be petering out but these songs display their might with the prowess of the writing. The triumphant ‘Don’t Blow It’, with its apt words of wisdom (“When we talk about love it’s not a discussion/ If you want it enough then you’ve got to do something”) and ‘Arrows’ with its sidways declaration of love (“I would take an arrow for you”) both come at the end, suggesting that there is a maturity to the band now.
There is a shed-load of indie guitar stuff and a pinch of synth to make this album ripe for the medium-sized venues and some solos to shrug off the image of being those same indie fops of 10 years ago. Their relocation to NY sees a bigger fuzz come into play when things are sped up for ‘Slow Down’, making them sound like a fully-formed and composed cousin of The Strokes, and it’s all part of what makes this album a rich tapestry.
If you were engrossed with the energy of With Love and Squalor or bewitched by the melodic hooks of their other two albums then this could be a decent record. If you enjoyed both those attributes then this could be an ‘album of the year’ contender.