New York based We Are Scientists have been going for 13 years, very successfully in fact, and have released three albums in this time. Unfortunately, I missed every single one of them (in defense of my ignorance, when they first came onto the scene I was only 7 years old). Perhaps it’s not ideal that the person reviewing this latest effort isn’t a seasoned We Are Scientists fan, or perhaps it’s the most ideal scenario for looking at it as a new project, independent from 13 years of backstory. We’ll investigate.
Having listened to the new album, TV En Français, a couple of times, I suffered the usual ‘all the songs sound fairly similar’ that you get when you have a new band and a new album all at the same time. A couple of songs, such as Dumb Luck for example, are a bit pop-punk for my liking, and sound slightly like something Elliot Minor might have brought out that 14 year old me would have lapped up without question.
However it’s oddly catchy after a while, much as I hate to admit it. I would hesitate to describe the album as pop-punk but there is definitely slightly more of a guitar-heavy rock element to a few of the tracks that encourages me to avoid labelling this as a purely ‘indie’ or ‘alternative’ album. It combines elements from all of these genres - the melodies are simple yet effective, it is poignant in places, yet you could still dance to it. A nod has to be given towards Chris Coady, the producer of this album, who’s done a fantastic job on every single one of these tracks.
Content-wise the album appears to depict different aspects of relationships that may appear hazy or hard to determine, perhaps difficult to fully pin down in terms of how your lover feels about you, and how you actually feel about them when you’re not trying to appear nonchalant about the whole thing. It’s very easy to get on board with lyrically; songs like Make It Easy repeating “if it’s not worth doing it right, let’s not do it all”.
The second half of the album is the stronger half, in my opinion. The song Overreacting has been on repeat since first hearing the album, the verses containing soft guitar patterns that are oddly reminiscent of The Cure, which seems out of place at first but really is quite refreshing. It is followed by Return The Favour, the strongest track on the album. It starts off slow, with a single guitar playing the odd few notes, gradually incorporating a drum beat, then building up from there with an impressive solo leading us into the final minute of the song. If you don’t listen to the album, or the band, just listen to this song. I really like this song.
The album ends with a slightly more upbeat vibe following a minor lull in tempo in the middle, and though I am far more taken with the slower and arguably more intense Return The Favour, it remains an example of well-written and well-produced guitar music. You could put this album on and just let it play while you had people over for drinks.
I have 13 years of catching up to do obviously. Unfortunately I cannot comment on whether this album is a departure from their old music or if they’re simply producing more of the same, but I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by it’s relatable subject matter and its enjoyable indie-rock vibes. It’s nothing groundbreaking in terms of musical content, but it’s certainly not dull. It’s not a life-changing awe-inspiring masterpiece, but it’s honest, and upbeat, and my chosen listening for the foreseeable future.