Album Review: We Are Scientists – Helter Seltzer

By on Tuesday, 26th April 2016 at 12:00 pm

We Are Scientists Helter Seltzer album coverA band’s fifth album is always a curiosity. At this point in their career, you’d assume they’d have evolved beyond the sound of their earlier works, perhaps not completely because you can’t simply forget what made people fall in love with you. But at the same time, you can’t attract a new audience or keep everyone else’s attention without shaking things up a little. We Are Scientists have followed this fact and over the course of five albums they have gone from scrappy, indie upstarts to mildly maturer experimenters of sound.

The audible evolution became most prominent on third release ‘Barbara’, where the use of electronic instruments, particularly synthesisers, became more common place. The overall sound also changed into a more rich and indulgent experience, with the compositions seemingly structured around creating a sound reminiscent of the ‘80s more and more. With the latest offering, ‘Helter Seltzer’, we find the band at a point of plateauing in the sense of having reached a peak in the evolution. The songs sound as loud as ever, with rousing choruses and cut from the heart lyrics, but there’s a depth that can only be heard after multiple listens.

For example, track two on the album, ‘In My Head’, has only a soft repetitive guitar line while the rest of the track is built around a flurry of synthesisers and rumbling bass. As you break away the layers you can hear the depth to which We Are Scientists are reaching. The in your face guitar attacks are subdued, instead replaced with orchestrations of thick synthesisers and reverb-soaked drums. The same is found on the follow-up track ‘Too Late’, which is yearning in its lyricism and harmonised vocals.


The first insight to this new material was in the form of ‘Buckle’, which is perhaps one of the most true to form We Are Scientists track on the album. Beginning with thumping drums and a compliment of bass and guitar, once again there’s a soft littering of synthesisers but it mostly revolves around the basic instruments and their effect experimentation. It’s a powerful track that kicks things off but doesn’t necessarily signal what the rest of the album holds. ‘Classic Love’ is another track that doesn’t stray too far from the evolutionary boundaries being set, with acoustic guitar being a prominent fixture layered below the rest of the instrumentation. The song is riotous at times, with a rollicking chorus that pics up the acoustic underlay and covers it in screeching and searing guitar sounds. A similar fashion is found on ‘Want for Nothing’, another longing track that shows just where the mindset of singer/guitarist Keith Murray is at.


Throughout the album, you can hear exactly how much We Are Scientists have matured over the years, the spritely youthfulness has been replaced by awareness of the world around them. Of course, they haven’t lost all aspects of their personalities: just watch them live, they’re hilarious, yet professional. But on the recordings there’s a depth that just keeps on growing, bringing us a new angle to the band that have survived a lot longer than any of their peers.

Experimentation is definitely doing positive for We Are Scientists: they have indulged in a profound use of effects, both on the instruments and vocals, particularly on album closer ‘Forgiveness’. This experimentation will undoubtedly lead We Are Scientists into the future, ensuring to not be left behind by the ever-changing and self-destructing industry. What comes next is anyone’s guess but whatever they do, it’ll be for themselves. We Are Scientists have reached their zen point, and it suits them just fine.


‘Helter Seltzer’ is out now via 100% Records. You can also catch We Are Scientists on tour next week, including headline slots at this bank holiday weekend’s Handmade Festival and Live at Leeds.

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One Response

11:00 pm
10th March 2020

[…] Don’t Bite’, and ‘Buckle’, the first single from their latest album ‘Helter Seltzer’, released in April. I had to leave shortly after, but I was happy to have experienced the 20 […]

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