We Are Scientists lose a lab coat but gain some new sounds on their latest, Brain Thrust Mastery. After the 2006 release of With Love and Squalor, life was eventful for the Claremont Colleges three-piece: they made an honest title out of single “It’s a Hit”, had smash U.K. success, numerous European and American tours and festivals (including Coney Island’s own Siren – QRO recap), soundtrack appearances, a b-sides and rarities collection, Crap Attack – and lost drummer Michael Tapper. Since last year, singer/guitarist Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain have worked as a duo (with a rotating cast of characters on drums and keys), but the departure seems to have inspired them to expand their sound.
Brain Thrust Mastery is the band’s first release on famed U.S. neo-dance label Astralwerks (Hot Chip, VHS or Beta, The B-52s), and the effect is clear on “Lethal Enforcer”, “Chick Lit”, and finisher “That’s What Counts”, where the band moves from its post-pop/punk sound into clear disco-dance. While “Enforcer” and “Counts” do kind of work, they’re not really We Are Scientists; stronger is “Chick Lit”, which mixes in the band’s driving rock for a full agglomeration of their new sound – in fact, “Chick Lit” is strong enough to be the record’s second single.
First single “After Hours” is more ‘traditional’ Scientists, but it’s also really the record’s top track, thanks to its ‘driving into the light’ uplift. Even with their Astral influence, the band does not abandon their more pressing indie-rock delivery on such songs as “Let’s See It” (this is a band that’s always done well with “It” songs…), the simple-but-catchy “Impatience”, the darker “Tonight”, and the rapid “Dinosaurs”. Only the bigger “Altered Beast” feels a little lame. While the band has certainly added to their sound, they haven’t really taken anything out.
Brain Thrust Mastery also isn’t a two-man, two-trick pony, as a few other styles get try-outs. Opener “Ghouls” is some interesting, pressing tech, while middle track “Tonight” is quiet, sweet, and heartfelt, providing a nice oasis on the record. We Are Scientists may be going different places, doing different things, but they haven’t lost their minds.