Release Date: Apr 22, 2016
Record label: 100% Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
Having grown from a frenetic neo-new wave indie rock outfit to a surprisingly reliable '80s-influenced pop duo, We Are Scientists' Keith Murray and Chris Cain deliver one of their most sonically accomplished and melodically infectious albums to date with 2016's Helter Seltzer. Produced with keyboardist Max Hart, who played on the band's 2008 album, Brain Thrust Mastery, and has since toured with Katy Perry, Helter Seltzer is a dynamic concoction of '80s new wave and '90s alt-rock. Purportedly having drawn inspiration from Murray's collection of thrift-store vinyl (Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, Nine Inch Nails) and benefiting from Hart's expertise in slick modern pop via his time with Perry, We Are Scientists came up with a sound that builds upon the group's post-punk roots while simultaneously pushing them in fresh and exciting directions.
You’ve heard it before: indie band makes waves with intoxicating studio debut, and lives forever in its shadow. In the decade since the squeaky-clean novelty of their heavy-on-the-bangers breakout album With Love and Squalor, We Are Scientists have consistently aspired to – but fallen short of – that same greatness. Helter Seltzer – their fifth – might bump the same ceiling as earlier outings, but it’s a much stronger return to their shameless hits, and light on filler.
We Are Scientists’ new album finds them in a bit of a laid-back mode. They’re still playing the same type of hook-infused rock that helped them establish themselves in the mid-‘00s, but Helter Seltzer is the most unhurried their songwriting has been since 2008’s Brain Thrust Mastery. That album seemed like a more studio-based reaction to losing their drummer in the wake of their hard-hitting breakthrough record With Love and Squalor.