There can be little denying that We Are Scientists‘ debut LP, With Love And Squalor, unashamedly penetrated indie lovers’ hearts and minds. With direct pop songs driven by an engine that runs on pure adrenaline, With Love And Squalor was one long hook, and propelled We Are Scientists into the indie mainstream.
The self-mockingly titled Crap Attack is the next major release from the Brooklyn trio, a collection of B-sides, new songs, covers, and remixes. Ram It Home tentatively gets the album out of the starting blocks. The song however, is somewhat detached from the We Are Scientists we have to come to love. It is the sound of a young band trying, and struggling to write a hit – the reckless ambition is there, the cheeky pop-wit is there, but something critical is missing.
It is the retro debonair of Surprise that is the first stand out point of Crap Attack, intelligently patterned, and with scything guitar lines, Surprise brings Crap Attack to life. This precedes an irresistibly danceable remix of The Great Escape.
Crap Attack also features acoustic remakes of several songs from With Love And Squalor, where the biting guitars and pounding drums are replaced with something far more gentile as Murray gently croons in a manner previously unheard. Call Backs, Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt, The Great Escape, and Textbook all get the treatment.
Sigur Rós? Hang on a minute. We Are Scientists are covering Sigur Rós? Unfortunately, yes. The astonishing single, Hoppípolla, complete with Icelandic vocals. For about a minute, they sort of pull it off (in an odd way), the chiming piano replaced by a bright acoustic guitar is solitary and poignant (in an odd way).
But, it is when Murray starts singing (in an odd way) that this nasty remake shows its true colours. That’s not to say that Murray’s vocals are bad, it just becomes glaringly obvious that there’s no-one on earth that can match the beauty of Jón Thor Birgisson. Another low point of the record is the cover of Art Brut’s Bang Bang Rock & Roll, where The Scientists try too hard to change their sound to copy the song.
But those are merely two blips on what is otherwise a fine record. Blips which songs such as Mucho Mas, This Means War, and the aforementioned Surprise more than make up for.
Crap Attack is a good honest record. Those expecting another With Love And Squalor will be disappointed however, and this is definitely one for the more staunch Scientists fan looking for a further insight into the Brooklyn trio’s musical world. With a DVD with all the music videos as well as live material Crap Attack is a genuinely attractive proposition.