A band at their dependable best...
Chris Reynolds

14:37 11th June 2010

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There was a time a few years ago when We Are Scientists were everyone’s buzz band. They filmed amusing videos (being chased by men dressed in giant dog outfits) and had choruses which accompanied indie discos the world over (‘The Great Escape’). Hell Keith Murray even became a sex symbol with his cheeky grin and George Lamb greying hair.

‘Barbara’ their 3rd, and perhaps most crucial, album of their careers is therefore tasked with bringing back the buzz and dusting down the cobwebs because for too long WAS have just existed.

‘Rules Don’t Stop’ and ‘I Don’t Bite’ do a pretty good job of kicking it all off – short, sharp slices of indie pop which glide by, leaving you humming along and reciting the choruses. The latter in particular has punchy chords and a generally upbeat feel.

But sometimes ‘Barbara’ can drag you down. ‘Pittsburgh’ is a downbeat number which meanders for 4 minutes and sounds like an uninspired Joy Division. ‘Break It Up’ starts off funky and hip and then stalls on a chorus which flatters to deceive.

Noticeably little has changed since their 2005 debut. The song writing remains similar, the structures are tried and tested, and the general feel is that you are still in 2005. It would have been a real treat for the WAS guys to dip their toes into unknown waters like they did with unexpected single ‘Spoken For’ from their second album. It’s just a little uninspiring overall.

To say ‘Barbara’ is a poor album would be unfair though. Tracks like new single ‘Nice Guys’ have substance and they have remained close to their pop sensitivities which have always been present. It just feels like they’re working on 70% efficiency and the result is an album which lacks the buzz of their debut and the balance of their sophomore effort. ‘Barbara’ is not a return to top form – just a case of WAS at their dependable best.

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