A collection of pop songs that doesn’t quite manage to get off the ground.
Label: 100% Records
Released: 3rd June 2016
Over a decade on from the release of their debut album (yes, it’s really been that long), and We Are Scientists have put their past firmly behind them. Releasing their self-proclaimed “flashiest” record yet, the duo are striving to shine. Indeed, ‘Helter Seltzer’ is nothing short of luxurious. Lavishly layered, and heavy on the pop hooks, the album is every bit as bubbly and enthused as its title.
“Why not make this interesting?” singer and guitarist Keith Murray coyly suggests on album opener ‘Buckle’. Phrased in the midst of a storming chorus, it’s an enticing concept – and one that listeners are equally as keen to see lived up to. Sparkling with passion though the release may be, the sweeping dynamic leaves something to be desired.
Trashing typical notions of romance on ‘Classic Love’, We Are Scientists are trying to tear up their own rule book. Along with the heavy refrains of ‘In My Head’ and the thudding percussion of ‘Headlights’, these tracks remain fairly middle of the road, serving as the album’s token rock numbers. But when the group give up on this format, that’s when they start to make a lasting impression.
Cutting from crooning vocal harmonies and echoing acoustic guitar to searing electric solos and pounding rhythms, ‘Waiting For You’ is an instant standout, able to instantly worm its way under anyone’s skin. Sweeping ballad ‘Too Late’ is another highlight. Fighting to preserve a deteriorating relationship with characteristically tongue in cheek lyrics (“nothing’s for sure / and that’s for certain”), the track is capable of whisking anyone off their feet in a heartbeat.
When We Are Scientists hit their mark, there’s very few who can rival them. But with more near misses than hits, ‘Helter Seltzer’ remains a collection of pop songs that doesn’t quite manage to get off the ground. Jess Goodman