Sound: "Brain Thrust Mastery" is the second LP from New York outfit We Are Scientists. Debut record "With Love And Squalor" was a success, the album embraced by fans of a huge combination of alternative genres. More "rocking" than they're contempories, the incredibly simple-go-effective guitar riffs, unashamed indie disco rhythms and emphatic melodies proved to be a real crossover hit. With album number two the band slightly turn they're backs on these trademarks, the riffing subtracted or supplemented by a mixture of synths and other instrumentation, the indie disco edge as good as gone and lyrically more of a step up in relevance and poignance.
Opener "Ghouls" gets the record off to a frustratingly sluggish start, shards of siren-esque synth and a ticking hi-hat the backdrop to negative all be it modest sentiments from singer Keith Murray. An effective sounding piece of music, but not exactly a soaring start and it's a far cry from what's to follow. "Let's See It" kicks in straight after and normal service is resumed in the shape of an extremely catchy riff and infectious set of melodies running they're way throughout and it's probably the one track that could actually appear on "With Love And Squalor", the band start expanding the sound from here on in.
Lead single "After Hours" proves to be one of the strongest tracks on the record, led by a driving acoustic guitar and looping lead riff, the laid back yet buzzing feel fits exactly right for a song of it's lyrical nature and spirit. "Lethal Enforcer" with its rays of 80's new wave synth, muted guitar play and tight bass line wouldn't be out of place amongst Julian Casablanca's stronger solo work, whilst second single "Chick Lit" goes down the other end of the synth-led spectrum, modern sounds not unfamiliar to bands like Klaxons linking with firm power chords and persistent backing vocals, both songs displaying powerful chorus sections amidst this.
Other highlights include the early-Weezer sounding "Spoken For", that combination of delicate guitar sounds with bursts of bends and power chords, and "Altered Beast", a rumbling bass line, thumping drum pattern and great middle 8 bridge lying either side of for me the most sincere and emotive chorus on the record. Closer "That's What Count's" could not be further from opener "Ghouls", a horn led section running at an extremely relaxed pace throughout, Keith Murray's vocals slightly higher to match this, creating a vibe perfect to end the record and summarise some of the lyrical points also.
The reference to so many tracks is testament to the fact the record really does have variety in sound at every turn, and it's only the one-dimensional guitar ride of "Impatience" and messy and chaotic "Dinosaur" that deny the record from being a completely flawless set of songs. Coming off the back of the first record which rarely steps out of the garage-band dyanmic, "Brain Thrust Mastery" possesses a real maturity. // 8
Lyrics: Right through the record the lyrics are often a specific examination of the thought process we go through in finding the right words and making the right decisions around relationships and naturally this will resignate with many. Opener "Ghouls", "Let's See It" and "Lethal Enforcer" are the best examples, all looking at the struggle of maintaining a balance in relationships and look at the blame game that attatches to that. Elsewhere, "After Hours" paints a very accurate picture of the early hours feeling where time feels like it doesn't exist, "Tonight" looks at the caution of blurring truth and lies on a night out and closer "That's What Counts" suits following either of these tracks with it's morning-after analysis of events the night before. // 8
Overall Impression: Musically and lyrically this record is a classier more encompassing record than it's predecessor, taking in a lot more variety and delivering more sincere results. Aside from a couple of lapses it's a great listen, the loss of old trademarks may discourage some fans, but you'd like to hope most would stick with We Are Scientists as they turn on the style. // 8