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We Are Scientists - Helter Seltzer (Album Review)

Monday, 25 April 2016 Written by Graeme Marsh

We Are Scientists are, if nothing else, prolific and consistent. ‘Helter Seltzer’ is their fifth album in just over a decade, following their last appearance two years ago with ‘TV en Français’.

That was a strong collection that confirmed the chemistry between Keith Murray and Chris Cain was still alive, even if its best bits came, somewhat uncharacteristically, courtesy of the slower numbers Courage and Return The Favor.

But, despite those obvious highlights, the album was lacking a killer tune like their signature hit After Hours, from 2008’s ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’. There’s a familiar feeling at work on ‘Helter Seltzer’.

Buckle, a sub-three minute minor key romp, opens the new album in typically uplifting style, its soaring chorus sticking around as the much under-utilised guitar talents of Murray get a brief workout for a mini solo.

Classic Love then taps into the youthful exuberance of so much of their work, and with lines like “before I settle down” they retain more of an impish lyrical appeal to a younger audience than their appearance perhaps alludes to.

Too Late, though, is straight out of the ‘80s and at first its repetitive chorus may grate. Bubbling synths and an anthemic lead revive matters and, if you let the song’s message sink in, it may even make the most downbeat listener realise they could yet kickstart their own life.

Two and a half minutes of vibrant energy help Headlights to inject some adrenaline into proceedings, but the best of the faster-paced efforts here is undeniably Hold On, with its rubbery bass reverberating alongside maracas and shimmering guitar while Murray’s catchy vocal melody floats above.

As with ‘TV en Français’, the album’s slower cuts are a little more special. We Need A Word opens to glistening guitars, akin to ‘Joshua Tree’-era U2, with its slow beat allowing it time to breathe before another uplifting chorus surfaces. Waiting For You mainlines faultless vocal harmonies, while album closer Forgiveness soars, its reverb guitars underpinning an epic ballad that benefits from a fleeting glimpse of those guitar talents.

As part of an extensive tour for ‘Helter Seltzer’, the band will soon head to the UK before returning again for the festival season. While their new material isn’t necessarily their strongest, there’s enough on show here to warrant a trip to see these Peter Pans of pop before they do finally hit middle age.

We Are Scientists Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon April 25 2016 - NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
Tue April 26 2016 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Riverside
Wed April 27 2016 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute2
Tue May 03 2016 - MANCHESTER Academy 2
Wed May 04 2016 - LONDON KOKO
Thu May 05 2016 - BRIGHTON Concorde 2

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