In the opulence of the theatre, below tier upon tier upon tier of balcony, We Are Scientists‘ slapstick music hall word play, quick-fire quips and relentless ribbing seems a perfect fit for a grand Victorian stage.
Unfairly disparaged in the past by some quarters of the music press for being more like comedians than songsmiths, here they are with album number five ‘Helter Seltzer’ in a packed out, prestigious London venue.
Fusing 80s synth pop with their indomitable style for this record, Keith Murray and Chris Cain crowbar crowd favourites in with the new: first single off their latest LP, ‘Buckle’, precedes ‘This Scene is Dead’ from record number one without pause for breath or even an inkling of its 11-year age difference, then ‘Chick Lit’ from No. 2 comes, followed by ‘What You Do Best’ off of record four. It’s certainly no mean feat to evolve with over a decade of releases and slip the songs seamlessly together whilst fusing a variety of influences and styles. It’s also a rarity for a show to be just that – but We Are Scientists fans know that when they go to a gig, they’ll get a show. The comic turns do not detract from the music, the reason everyone is really here, and for even the casual observer it must be a nice surprise to realise how much of the WAS back catalogue has seeped in over the years: ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ and ‘The Great Escape’ are indie disco staples, ‘After Hours’ is the big singalong, and ‘It’s A Hit’ and ‘Nice Guys’ are the epitome of earworm.
For the die-hard, it’s the quintessential greatest hits set, and for two born and bred Californian boys to choose the UK to launch the record and then play an era-spanning collection to a sold out venue is proof this small island is close to their hearts. A cacophony of noise greets every song’s inaugural note as if it’s their Number 1 hit. Keith Murray has a way with a riff or a hook that brings the house down, and the collaboration of harmonies makes the difference between a rousing chorus and an anthemic one.
It’s testament to the quality of their April-released full-length that they can already close with its crowning point ‘Too Late’ to overwhelming response. They are a band who have always received much more appreciation from our fair shores than they have from their own golden West Coast beaches and beyond, and something tells us we will be seeing them again before too long.