We Are Scientists - Brain Thrust Mastery
Every band is capable of maturing from album to album. Time and experience almost dictate this as a natural course of events. Sometimes, it's a little more surprising, a little more up-front and in a sense, depending on who you are, a little more enjoyable to hear. Brain Thrust Mastery is the sort of album that is unashamed of being better than what came before it, and for my money, it's the high-water mark in We Are Scientist's discography.
What you get here is more than a collection of pop-fused rockers, which is more or less the direction the band took With Love And Squalor, the album that began to garner them widespread attention. Each song is very well detailed, fleshed out in a way that I totally expected they could do, but doubted they would. WAS will always be more of a live act, using the studio to churn out the tracks that will almost always dazzle more in person than on record. But the band admitted that BTM was more of an attempt at a studio album, and it shows the sort of diversity in songwriting, skill in flash and hooks, and competence in chemistry that many bands simply do not possess. You get a quick glimpse of it on opener "Ghouls", which fuses distortion and creepy ambience in a rather refreshing way. "Let's See It" comes off like we expect WAS to come off, but there's much more oomph, a lot of which must come from an increased eye towards production values and instrumental chemistry. "After Hours" might sound lifted from the Arcade Fire songbook, but not many bands can pull off this sort of deceptively-upbeat number with the sort of honesty and emotion this song has. "Lethal Enforcer" sounds like an 80's dance hit, perhaps touching on a lesser-known influence for the band. Very catchy, just a bit embarrassing to enjoy. "Impatience" is very bombastic, very big in the sound picture, up-front and aggressive and indeed one of the more notable tracks on the album. "Tonight" has a darker atmosphere to it, perhaps a logical continuation of "Ghouls" halfway through the album, an eerie change of pace.
The rest of the album is sure to please if the first half does, in particular the closing track "That's What Counts", a wonderfully written bluesy jam. Brain Thrust Mastery shows We Are Scientists at their absolute best in terms of songwriting and execution of a truly solid record. And while it may be too early to say so, this might have been the peak for them. while their latest album Barbara is certainly solid, it just doesn't compare to the element of pleasant surprise I was stricken with when I heard this album for the first time. A band I had once considered sophmoric and just out for the typical trappings of rock and roll showed an appreciation for the artistic value of their music that I think almost any rock fan could appreciate.
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