Wondering how to romance a certain elusive someone? Not sure where to begin? Dance-rockers We Are Scientists have compiled a booklet of dating tips and case studies that's sure to help. Why not take a page from the animal kingdom, from "nature's most successful Casanovas and sluts," such as the fox? "Foxes use gentle lasers from their eyes to warm the scruff and loin of potential mates," the booklet suggests. "Carry a powerful flashlight to accomplish something similar."
After forming in Northern California and relocating to Brooklyn, We Are Scientists broke through with 2006's major-label debut, With Love and Squalor. After the departure of drummer Michael Tapper, guitarist/vocalist Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain released Brain Thrust Mastery in 2008. For Barbara, they recruited drummer Andy Burrows (formerly of Razorlight).
The dating-advice booklet doubles as the liner notes to Barbara, but seems to tie in more to the band's nonsensical blog than the album's '80s-infused pop songs -- combining power-trio grit and anthemic New Wave melodies that bring to mind the likes of Tears for Fears and New Order. There is a connection, though, between the tongue-in-cheek dating advice and the short stabs of self-conscious relationship pop that kick off the record: "Rules Don't Stop," "I Don't Bite" and "Nice Guys," which offers the advice, "If you're the nice guy, act like the nice guy."
Sure, it isn't exactly as heady as Coheed & Cambria's comic-book series based on their albums' overarching narrative or whatever. We Are Scientists, on the other hand, can simultaneously offer a funky bassline and suggest the pickup line, "Are your legs tired? Because you've been running from wolves in my mind all day."
Most songs on Barbara are two to three minutes long; the longest by far is the fifth song, entitled (for no apparent reason) "Pittsburgh." It's also the album's most ponderous -- Joy Division-style drum patterns, a distorted bass line, and eerie organ and guitar, coupled with the lyrics "All we want is to be together / All we want is to sleep together / We're only after one thing."
Other highlights include "Foreign Kicks," which pairs a flurry of digital-delayed guitar with a great bass line and soft-rock vocal harmonies, and the album closer, "Central AC," which uses the final 30 seconds of the album for a crazy guitar solo. Between the cheeky advice booklet and the smart pop tunes, Barbara suggests both "How to Dress When You're Looking to Get Undressed" ... and perhaps what to listen to while you're doing so.
We Are Scientists with Bad Veins and Satin Gum. 9:30 p.m. Sun., Aug. 15 (doors at 9 p.m.). Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $13. 412-621-4900 or www.brillobox.net
- They don't bite: We Are Scientists