We Are Scientists - Birmingham Academy
You might expect a band that has an ever-so-imposing bat adorning their set backdrop to churn out some industrial metal or glum gothic nonsense. The sound effects that precede the band's entrance, consisting of theatrical thunderclaps and atmospheric rain, only add to one's expectations. The fact then that tonight's main attraction are the perky poppy We Are Scientists boys would be something of a surprise to someone who hadn't read their ticket before entering the premises.
Kicking things off with This Scene Is Dead (almost delicious in its irony as it is performed to a room packed with scenesters in, yes, skinny jeans), the tone for the night is set: infectious, sly and, overall, damn funky pop choonage. These American laddies have been lumped into the same group as the ever-growing number of arty and angular 'intellectual' indie bands - read Maximo Park, The Futureheads, The Cribs, etc. However, for some reason, W.A.S. make the others look like they're trying too hard. It all seems so effortless from the entertaining song interludes, where frontman Keith Murray and bass guitarist Chris Cain chat away, to the songs themselves. For a band that has only one album to their name, the output is pretty solid - we have the crowd-pleasing singles Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt and It's A Hit but everything here could (and should) be lighting up the charts. Whilst undeniably witty lyrics crop up throughout their tracks, this band don't ignore melody and simple but effective hooks. The trio don't let up, Murray a charismatic and effusive performer, and the running time seemingly whizzing by.
Standout tracks are album highlight and distinctly Cure-esque Textbook and, bizarrely, a cover of The Ronettes' Be My Baby. Perhaps this choice isn't so strange after all, considering the band's final song, the inescapably catchy The Great Escape, sees the crowd pulling off some indie-style dirty dancing. No encore is a bit of a disappointment but one can't really complain after witnessing such an energetic and fulfilling appearance. Grade A!