We Are Scientists – Crap Attack (2006): Review

crap

Produced by Ariel Rechtshaid
Label -EMI

On reading the band’s fan forum many questions are asked about the relevance of the follow up to the solid predecessor “With Love And Squalor”, an album blessed with some fine tunes, neo post punk riots with an indie disco edge. Why get excited about a collection of B sides, covers and other oddities? Bass player Chris Cain quickly jumps to the defensive; “Yeah, with Crap Attack we were worried people would think we had just thrown something dangerously incoherent together simply to keep our chair at the publicity table.”… Too right Chris! That’s exactly what people were thinking. One’s natural assumption is that either the band are commercial racketeers preying on luckless fans, or that they are struggling to put forth an original release, or possibly both. The unfortunately titled “Crap Attack” sees the 3 piece raid their back catalogue, with re-released B sides of the early singles, bizarre covers of songs by Sigur Ros, Art Brut, and The Ronettes, and dance mixes and unplugged versions of the early singles.

“Ram It Home” is a worthy inclusion to the uninitiated, where Keith Murray’s angular riffs fire off sparks to a lyric that is noteworthy for its un-romanticism as he quips “All my friends ask if my girlfriend is pretty, I say I don’t really know, I only look at her titties”. Hardly thespian, but the energy of the song pulls it off, so to speak. Added to this, another B side “Surprise” and a song that was released on the original Vinyl version of the debut album (“History Repeats”) finds the band in fine form, drawing on the tight rhythms, the sharp guitar interplay, and the typically clipped Murray vocal performance.

WAS

The four cover versions are quite ghastly. “Hoppipolla” becomes a minor league session practice; under-produced and lacking the sprawling elegance of Sigur Ros’s original. “Bang Bang Rock And Roll” sounds like a bad cover of an Art Brut song that is a bad reincarnation of a bad Velvet Underground song, and for that reason is simply 3rd rate. “Be My Baby” sounds like a bunch of kids practicing in your garage, excited that they’ve learned a new riff.

Add to that the unplugged songs, “Callbacks”, “Nobody Move”, “The Great Escape”, and “Textbook”; all acoustic meandering, highlighting minimal proficiency, and for a band that thrive on an energized sound are tepid imitations of the originals. There’s some upbeat mixes of “The Great Escape” and ‘This Scene Is Dead”, which sound OK on a Friday night after a few sherbets but hardly translate to your living room or ipod. The album comes with a DVD of videos to the songs, and a live show from the Shepherds Bush Empire which to be fair highlights their ability to put on a rousing show. But ultimately its new tunes the fans wanted, and one only sees this package appealing to the WAS legions.

In conclusion, one always tries to find a succinct line to emphasise the relevance of a new recording. Read the title as it speaks volumes about this album. “Crap Attack” is strictly for the fans.

5/10

Track Listing
1. “Ram It Home” 3:18
2. “Surprise” 2:36
3. “The Great Escape (The Silence Mix)” 5:43
4. “Mucho Más” 2:47
5. “Callbacks Under The Sea” 2:58
6. “Hoppípolla” 4:06
7. “Bang Bang Rock & Roll” 4:25
8. “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt Under the Sea” 3:56
9. “Sie hat was vermisst” 5:51
10. “Be My Baby” 3:12
11. “This Scene is Dead (Pete Predictable Remix)” 5:05
12. “History Repeats” 3:57
13. “This Means War” 3:28
14. “The Great Escape Under the Sea” 3:55
15. “Textbook Under the Sea” 3:23

“Ram It Home”

“Bang Bang Rock & Roll”

“Textbook Under The Sea”

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