Ahh, the second album. If there's a point in a musician's career that could define them, it's then. It's the stage where it's time to expand horizons, change perspectives and prove you're not a one trick pony. Sadly, it's also a stage where there seems to be many hits and misses. For every Radiohead success story (where the second album well and truly trounces the first), another band with real prospect seems to fall apart (one that springs to mind was one of my favourite bands, Hard-Fi, which seemed to have more than the odd thing go wrong e.g. non-rebellious cover and a mix bag of songs ranging from good to tedious (but that's another review for another time)). Thankfully, when the questionable second album does work, you truly get some gems.
In the case of New York Indie rockers/randomists with tongue firmly in cheek We Are Scientists, while not an absolute gem, it's still a mighty impressive rock.
After suffering a similar fate to Sheffield doppelgangers Arctic Monkeys (with a member of the band leaving before the second album was released, in this case, lovable drummer Michael Tapper), the band's (or duo's) second album like there doppelgangers has thankfully changed their sound. Instead of the addictive, indie goodness of before with some, quite frankly, great drumming thrown in, "Brain Thrust Mastery" seems a lot, to bluntly put it, slower with a darker shade.
Opening track "Ghouls" sets the mood of things to come. Although lyrically, there's similar content to the band's previous album, the music isn't as frantic or fast. It's an alright track, possibly not the best way to start the album since there's better tracks, but at least it showcases some of the band's newer sounds.
From there, things get more expansive. At times, it feels like there are two sounds happening. For example in "Let's See It", it sounds as if the band's returned back to the previous album's roots, but when songs like "After Hours" (which actually sits right at home here) and "Tonight" groove there way through the speakers, it makes you wonder if the band listened to something like Joy Division or some other hits from the 70's/80's in the recording process.
By the time the album draws to a close with "That's What Counts", a great finale laced with saxophones and somewhat, upbeat lyrics of enjoying moments instead of thinking of consequences, I was left thinking that during the whole album, there wasn't a single song I would use as the album's summary. It's not like "With Love & Squalor" where I could say listening to "It's a Hit" gives you the general gist of every song on the record. Here, because each song has something distinctive and sounds different from before, you'd have to listen to the whole album to see the wide range of things going on.
To put it in simple terms, if you're expecting indie anthems like "The Great Escape" or laugh out loud lyrics like "Ram It Home", there not here. Instead, it's more of a mature sound that expands on the good stuff, but also brings new stuff to the table, which is what many bands fail to do on the second album.
Fans of We Are Scientists should enjoy the second album, there's a few dud moments here and there (one example being "Ghouls", it wasn't the best way to open the album) and if your music taste was ruined in the 80's with the use of synths amongst other things, you may as well not bother. But minus them, it's a great second album and it's nice to see a band with a lot of potential to make it huge, get past one of the toughest stages in a musician's career.
Well done lads, you well and truly have rammed it home.