We Are Scientists were one of those bands that rose out of nowhere with a plethora of other indie musicians in the early to mid noughties. Back then they had a lot to compete with, and managed to stay afloat with great hits such as Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt, with its Beastie Boys style swagger, or The Great Escape with its nods to a whacked out Blur tune. Being almost a decade on, have they managed to release something special in new record TV En Francais, or should they be put on the never ending list of indie rock bands assigned to the scrapheap?
After their last album Barbara was released to mixed reviews, it felt as though We Are Scientists needed to update themselves to keep up with the game, and they have definitely grown with this album. First track What You Do Best is instantly recognisable as a We Are Scientists track, but noticeably darker; a good opener to keep the faithful but tempts the new. Dumb Luck continues the early hard-hitting feel with some heavy riffs reminiscent of WolfMother, beautifully layered vocals, and managing to feel like a homage to Black Sabbath with its rollicking rock ‘n’ roll. Singer Keith Murray is having fun here and you can tell.
What pulls this album back into the mainstream is its growth from previous efforts, the lyrics feel tighter, the sound more varied, and they actually feel like a band again. Andy Burrows has really stamped his authority on this album after joining on drumming duties from indie rockers Razorlight, and it helps create a band atmosphere. This is seen most on tracks such as Return the Favour, with Andy’s style of drumming standing out, and integrating seamlessly with plenty of vocal feedback and distant guitars for a well thought-out song.
The band has also come on leaps and bounds with slower tracks, helping keep the record interesting. Courage slows it right down with an uncharacteristic waltz vibe, whereas Sprinkles’ mid-tempo speed features clever vocal use from Keith, leading to a typically loud chorus. They’ve kept enough to let you know who they are, but changed enough to be different.
There are only a couple of tracks that seem below par; Overacting could be a little more original, and Slowdown is nothing special, but probably great fun for them to play live, fast, and hard. TV EN Francais shows that We Are Scientists deserve to still be around, and have managed to do what so many indie bands fail to do, change for the better instead of being stuck in a rut. It’s well worth a listen and a triumphant rise back to form.