We Are Scientists - Brain Thrust Mastery (EMI/Virgin)
With their brainy, danceable new-wave pop, We Are Scientists was pegged early on as Brooklyn’s answer to Franz Ferdinand and the Arctic Monkeys. Brain Thrust Mastery, the follow-up to its 2005 major-label debut, With Love and Squalor, finds the group—downsized from a trio to just guitarist-vocalist Keith Murray and bassist–backup singer Chris Cain—developing into something more than the sum of its influences.
“After Hours” grafts a mournful melody onto the hopped-up, late-night-Manhattan guitar lines and rhythms of the Strokes. “Spoken For” is a swoon-worthy song of loyalty and fidelity that builds to a punchy, climactic bridge, while “Impatience” and “Dinosaurs” rock like Murray and Cain will do anything to keep the party from ending. “Chick Lit”, with its fire-engine alarms and disco-drama synth, is tooled specifically for indie rockers unafraid to get their dance-floor freak on. By the time “Altered Beast” rolls around, toward the middle of the disc, most listeners with a taste for rock to the left of Nickelback and to the right of Coheed and Cambria will be won over.
For all its hooks, though, Brain Thrust Mastery suffers from the same malady as the products of so many of the band’s contemporaries—the disc fades from memory before its last note fades. Still, it’s unfair to ask every halfway decent rock group to achieve something life-changing. We Are Scientists knows its way around the laboratory, and that’s enough. For now.