We Are Scientists, "Barbara"

74 Billboard Rating

Rock act We Are Scientists typically has a good sense of what hits, but on its latest album, "Barbara," the band begins to figure out what misses. Opening track "Rules Don't Stop" showcases We Are Scientists' knack for uncomplicated and undeniably catchy rock, while "Jack & Ginger" combines the best of previous efforts. The trickling synth on the latter calls to mind the group's 2008 album, "Brain Thrust Mastery," and lyrics soaked with alcohol references would fit right in on 2006 debut "With Love and Squalor." But "Barbara" slumps when We Are Scientists slows the tempo for songs like "Pittsburgh." The lush track doesn't quite reach its potential without the band's usual pop sensibilities. The same goes for the song "Foreign Kicks," which has a smooth, slow-jam appeal but struggles to leave a long-lasting impression. Elsewhere, cuts like "You Should Learn" and album closer "Central AC" revitalize the pace, but still lack the hard-hitting hooks. --Lindsey Fortier

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