We Are Scientists
TV En Francais
Four albums in and this band are still somewhat underrated by many, I’m not sure why as their releases to date have been of a much higher standard than other more well-known acts from the past 10 years. However, the fanbase they have is extremely loyal waiting with baited breath for this, the next LP from these guys. Their 3rd album ‘Barbara’ was released back in 2010 and since then things have been quiet. The release of the ‘Business Casual’ EP last year saw a glimmer of hope for a return. One that has now arrived in the form of ‘TV En Francais’ much to fans delight and hopefully this will see WAS gain more of that attention from the industry and press that they well and truly deserve.
Proceedings start with retro tinged opener ‘What You Do Best’ that slowly remoulds itself into an echoey, rhythmic indie classic. The slow, drawn out sounds throughout give it a laid back vibe and the backing vocals add to the swaying quality of the track as well as adding some more fullness to the sound. This could easily become a summer anthem sound tracking your festival weekend or days out with friends.
A quick metal riff opens next track ‘Dumb Luck’ carrying on throughout where it is joined by a strong bass and uptempo rhythm. The song fully crashes into life in the chorus with a huge rock guitar making this by far one of their heaviest songs to date whilst also retaining the insanely catchy atmosphere the band are well known for. This is followed up by ‘Make It Easy’ a much more subdued track with atmospheric tones running in the background, set in stark contrast from the last. A gentle guitar, padding drums, a slightly buried but absolutely great bass line and Murray’s harmonious vocals carry us along culminating with a big chorus that backs up Murray’s sentiment that ‘if it’s not worth doing it right then let’s not do it at all’.
There is a huge array of influences throughout and though they are all extremely different it does seem to work as a whole. For example, ‘Sprinkles’ features verses of oscillating bass chords, plodding drums and high pitched backing vocals before morphing into a rock fuelled chorus with a dirty classic rock riff, crashing cymbals, a bass solo and soaring vocals. This is followed up a couple of tracks later by 80’s indie shoegaze meets 70’s disco mash up that is ‘Overreacting’. When this opens it has a Joy Division/The Cure throwback edge to it from the guitar, drawn out muffled vocals and shimmering sounds before a fast paced, disco chorus comes in. It’s two reference points in music that shouldn’t really work next to each other but somehow it manages to here.
‘TV En Francais’ is a progression musically as well as vocally with Keith Murray’s vocals featuring an added sense of clarity and a more developed style. Tracks such as ‘Courage’, ‘Slow Down’ and ‘Return The Favour’ are times when you really notice this. ‘Courage’ is a stripped back acoustic classic that will have you swaying along to soft intricate melodies and the slight country twang in Murray’s voice. The chorus sees mellow yet huge vocals set against pounding drums and a fast guitar, it is a short yet beautiful song and a great mid-point to the album. Whereas ‘Slow Down’ is a fast paced guitar led track that opens with an air of old school Maccabees before a grungey muffled riff comes in creating a heavier track that is still chock full of catchy rhythm and melody to see you dancing along to it.
‘Return The Favour’ is my personal favourite song on the album with an opening of atmosphere laden murky guitars and faint sounding vocals, it sounds a bit like something The XX would have written and released. A slow, almost commanding bass and a prominent drum pad in and around the rest of the track which is filled with a fast riff, grand keys and crashing percussion exploding into life for a huge final chorus.
As we get towards the end of the album, we encounter ‘Don’t Blow It’ a slowed down, rhythm fuelled track with a country edge from the start-stop guitar strums. The chorus will surely be a huge moment in the band’s future live sets with the ‘end of the night feel’ it has, big enough for you to sing along to but inevitably you know that soon this is going to finish. Fear not though because we have one more track left in the form of ‘Take An Arrow’. Echoey guitar strums open giving it a shoegazey, early Manic Street Preachers vibe. Musically this is brilliant going from fast paced, sing along choruses to slower, building verses. It’s a really good way to end what has been an excellent listen.
At this point in the year, this is the best album of 2014 for me and every other band may as well just give up now. The long wait between ‘Barbara’ and ‘TV En Francais’ has been more than worth it when this is what you are greeted with as a return. It’s a masterpiece and personally I think it is one of the strongest and most cohesive records the band have released.
Check out the video for the single ‘Dumb Luck’: