Album Review: Business Casual

Alt-rockers We Are Scientists have slipped under the radar until recently. The Berkeley, Calif. duo is well known for its unique blend of great acoustic rock and frenetic guitar jams that channel bands like The Strokes. Remember the movie Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist? The We Are Scientists track “After Hours,” included on the soundtrack, propelled the group much further into the spotlight. Unfortunately, the band put out one more album afterward and then went on a temporary hiatus. The band’s recent release of two EPs, one being Business Casual, signals the underappreciated and very talented group’s return.

The EP begins with “Dumb Luck,” a hectic track centered on some crazy guitar work. The song has great harmony and a wonderful old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll sound. The melody is well crafted and the song sounds almost like Queens of the Stone Age. It’s a rip rolling song to start off the EP and contains all the parts necessary to make it an ideal new jam that stands alone.

“Return the Favor” is most definitely the most typical-sounding We Are Scientists track from the EP, but in no way does that make the track lacking. The song has a wonderfully pleasing chorus and great layering on all accounts. The instrumentation is lush and bombastic, and the singing is melodic and catchy. The guitar is down and dirty, but the song somehow sounds clean as a whistle. It’s a great song to chill to and is definitely another must-listen.

“Good Answer” keeps the ball rolling. It’s a solid track to be sure, and the opening riff immediately catches you. You can definitely see this one being in a movie soundtrack. The chorus itself doesn’t do much in the way of catchiness, but the song holds itself well in light of the clean guitars and the repeating riff. The piano adds a nice soft texture to the track as well.

“Courage” is definitely the most interesting track on the EP. It’s also the most simple, with just guitar and vocals. It seems really honest, though, which is something to be said in itself.

“Courage” has a folky feel to it – a very singer-songwriter vibe. It certainly seems like a way for the band to present itself in a more stripped-down manner, considering the production of the rest of the EP is quite nice and big sounding. In contrast to the lush textures of the other tracks, “Courage” is a nice respite and presents another side to this evolving group.

The EP closes with “Take My Breath Away,” a cover of a ballad by ‘80s group Berlin. The band’s rendition has a country kind of twang, which is certainly evident in the slide guitars that persist throughout, but overall, the band does a great job on adding its own spin to the song. It’s big, it’s powerful and it doesn’t feel out of place.

I like to think of this EP as a sampler platter of sorts: a taste of the many talents of We Are Scientists and what they have in store for the future. There’s a song on this EP for everyone, and its sound is just plain enjoyable. This is a band that is not unsure of where it’s going – musicians that know they can do whatever they set their minds to. This EP is just letting the rest of the world know.