Barbara, the new album by indie-rock trio We Are Scientists, is a hook-heavy affair on which vocalist/guitarist Keith Murray expels highly contagious choruses on nearly every song. This isn't a drastic departure from 2008's Brain Thrust Mastery, but on Barbara, the band tightens the screws and jettisons any unnecessary weight that might otherwise inhibit its forward momentum. Well-placed synth textures play a more limited role, while overdubs and extra instrumentation appear only sparingly. This arrangement leaves more room for dense rhythm-section grooves and agile guitar lines to take center stage. The result mirrors the band's capable nature as a live power-trio — but adds enough slickness to make some perfectly sweetened studio-pop confections.
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