“We all recognize that I’m the problem here,” Keith Murray confesses through the distorted fuzz of guitar at the beginning of the lead track to Brain Thrust Mastery, the latest pop-rock nugget from Cali trio We Are Scientists.
Indeed if Murray is the problem, then the poppy and funky melodies found on the group’s 2008 follow-up to the brilliant With Love and Squalor are the solution. The music is easy to digest and accessible, resisting the need to go for The Complication or The Pretension. Instead, We Are Scientists play it safe all over Brain Thrust Mastery.
The results? Delicious morsels of “expertisery.” Call me, Webster.
Driven strongly by guitar and enthusiastic background vocals, Brain Thrust Mastery is the sort of toe-tapping delight perfect for the summertime. The Futureheads tried the same formula with This Is Not The World, but their effort lacked the sense of adventure held by We Are Scientists.
This is the rightful fruition of alternative rock, in fact. It’s dance rock with principle and easy-to-swallow attitude, providing a perfect breather from the nastiness of today’s oppressed global and economic climate.
Like all good alternative music, Brain Thrust Mastery wouldn’t exist without the 80s. Tones of classic club songs resonate all over the gorgeous synth-backed “Lethal Enforcer” and the addictive and noisy “Tonight.”
We Are Scientists aren’t content with just one swipe at another genre, though, as they take a strong dig at riff-heavy rock with “Let’s See It” and the sweetly goofy “Chick Lit.”
Despite the swell of positivity and frenetic energy, singer Murray has an ability to ground the album in our times and infuse the lyrics with a sense of trouble and gloom. “Enough is not enough/but I keep saying that I'll stop/over and over/I'm drowning in each drop,” he intones on the album’s final track, “That’s What Counts.”
Brain Thrust Mastery is an album tempered with wrong impressions, pop-rock sentiment, and an addiction to keeping things fun regardless of what the cost is in the morning.
While it isn’t as strong as With Love and Squalor, it is still a solid entry in the lab of We Are Scientists and should keep fans of their brand of “vaguely danceable, implicitly humanist” music quite pleased.