Brain Thrust Mastery // Virgin
If a good sense of humour is indeed mankind’s last line of defence against a crumbling universe, there can be few bands as adept at dodging the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as We Are Scientists. When our sun implodes and all we know on Earth dies, you can bet that Keith Murray and Chris Cain will be breathing nitrous oxide in an underground bunker, laughing their tits off as they dictate another pithy press release about spending the last year in a fat camp, a drying-out clinic and a race-car school. Yet, for all their willful irreverence – and how else can you describe staging self-help seminars before your gigs? – there’s nothing especially funny about WAS’ music. No, what WAS specialise in is fun.
‘Brain Thrust Mastery’, their second major-label effort, positions them somewhere between a floppy-fringed, indie-pop Foo Fighters and a dive bar Duran Duran – which, by the sounds of things, is exactly where they want to be. ‘Ghouls’ might open proceedings with a malaise of throbbing claustrophobia, but even amid its ho-humness you can still practically see the tunes approaching over the Crayola-hued horizon. Going by the sum of its parts, ‘After Hours’ – a playful, chirpy love song to a lock-in – shouldn’t amount to much, and yet its four minutes coast by on a wave of pure charm. That’s nothing, however, compared to ‘Lethal Enforcer’, a Pimms-drinking, shoulderpad-sporting beast that lurks underneath lampposts surrounded by dry ice and cigarette smoke, staring at attractive women longingly and trying to be Spandau Ballet. That’s just fucking awesome.
Continuing in this vein is ‘Chick Lit’, a ruffle-collared slice of pure electro-pop filth that you’ll be sweating beer out of your bloodstream to on a weekly basis should they get around to releasing it as a single. Even if the skronk of distant saxophones on ‘That’s What Counts’ is questionable, it wasn’t enough to put us off its breezy, cheesy, circa-1983 aceness. However, if rolled-up dinner jacket sleeves and capsized yachts aren’t your thing, fret not. There’s more than enough twitchy good-time rock’n’roll here to tide you over. The picks of which are ‘Impatience’, with its lung-bursting chorus and building-block drums and the jerky, infectious ‘Let’s See It’.
WAS seem to understand the inherent ridiculousness of being in a rock’n’roll band, and even appear to revel in it. Just because ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ doesn’t attempt to shoehorn some hamfisted social commentary or poverty-ending rhetoric into its 11 tracks doesn’t make it lightweight indie fluff; far from it – We Are Scientists are serious about having fun.