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MEGAPLEX

We Are Scientists | MEGAPLEX

Label:  100% Records
Release Date: April 27, 2018
Rating:  3.75 out of 5
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April 26, 2018
By Ryan Zakin
 
The New York-based indie juggernauts We Are Scientists have made a significant departure on their new album, Megaplex, that one could totally predict would happen. In a similar style of many other rock bands of the same age and stature as WAS, the band has taken on an 80s, New Wave pop sound as their newest approach to music making. Despite this substantial difference in sound, the band has never sounded sharper, and this album brings with it a well-crafted collection of songs that pay homage to the children of the 80s, and the pop music that they either loved or were subjected to.

20 years have gone by since Keith Murray (vocals, guitar) and Chris Cain (bass) met at Pomona College in California, but one relocation to New York, and a handful of albums later, the two have sought to master their songwriting craft. Best known for their cult-like following from their debut album, With Love and Squalor, the band gained a nice following in the States, but an ever higher level of popularity in the UK. Because of this, they would go on to sign to 100% Records (a UK-based label), and tour extensively in Europe while still residing in the US. But make no mistake, this album sounds as American as any Bruce Springsteen or White Stripes record.

On Megaplex, they write verses as if they’re choruses, and make sure that every point of the song can be sung along to by their substantial fanbase (who will see them on tour in the coming month). They truly apply the old industry adage, “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” Notable songs include their fourth single, “Heart Is A Weapon”, which takes on a very danceable energy for a song that discusses heartbreak. “One In, One Out” debuted on NME a couple of months ago and takes the very synth-oriented direction that sets the precedent for almost the entire project. This song in particular was also accompanied by the release of a music video that looks like a bonus round in Tron, with a retro-futuresque appearance of the band in the void of a digital world.

The song “Your Light Has Changed” reminds us of a simpler time in WAS’ history, with heavy guitars and pounding drums quickly approaching in the choruses, which creates a loud-soft dynamic that the band has learned to use to their advantage. This dynamic can also be found on “Now Or Never”, which also features more quiet moments of acoustic guitars. “KIT”, a track found around the halfway point of the record, is a very stark contrast, offering new sounds that can’t be previously recalled in the band’s catalogue. Most notable of these changes is the level of polish in the final mix, and a fretless bass feature from Cain. Megaplex ends with "Properties of Perception", which has an easier message than the previously mentioned songs. Sonically, it's certainly a more positive way to finish the album after Murray reminds us that we failed at the test of a lifetime on the prior tune, "You Failed.” With a lighter touch overall, it concludes the album in a very natural way, and finishes an album that is best listened to start to finish.

One critique that could be found of this album is that at times the lyrics to the songs do not correlate to the mood that the song portrays. At times, the words can be sprawling, perhaps off-topic. However, in the context of these songs the music is certainly more important, as it always has been for WAS. This critique also does not affect the overall level of professionalism and mastery that Murray and Cain bring to the table. Their second album in a row with a more pop sound, We Are Scientists is on to something good, and it is certainly working in their favor. The band never ceases to be fresh and exciting, even when bringing back a phase of music history once thought to be lost in in time. One can only hope for more music in the world made with this level of quality.
Ryan Zakin is a writer, musician, and songwriter from New York City. He has been with Musiqtone since early 2018, covering a variety of interviews, reviews, and concerts in the blossoming New York rock scene.

Facebook Comments: Keep 'em clean folks!
 
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