We Are Scientists – review

Oran Mor, Glasgow

"This place is grand, it has a certain grandeur," banters singer and guitarist Keith Murray, the silver-fox one with the sloping fringe, after walking on stage to the sound of Belinda Carlisle's Heaven Is a Place on Earth. Bassist Chris Cain, the curly-haired one in the vest, casually agrees. "Thanks for having my back on that," Murray deadpans. The We Are Scientists irony-heavy comedy double act – which will tonight variously tend to such irreverent subjects as thieving werewolves and drinking Kronenbourg for Egypt (you had to be there) – is appropriately in swing even before the music.

They could almost be prepping for a run at the Edinburgh fringe next week, this pair of laid-back, sharp-tongued Californians, whose mantra probably goes: just because you take your music seriously, doesn't mean you have to take yourselves seriously. It's made them a band you can root for in a way you can't other po-faced sorts to emerge from the spiky indie-rock upsurge of last decade – The Bravery, say. But still becalmed between albums, following recent changes of management, record label and lineup (the follow-up to 2010's Barbara is done, but there's no sign of a release date), they look a band anchored to old material.

The air-punching reactions that meet Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt and It's a Hit are reminders of how glorious a chorus We Are Scientists can craft. There's some auspicious new songs in the mix – Something About You could be Ash playing Weezer – but it's dispatched without fanfare and presents limited variations on the theme of jittery post-punk meets fuzzy indie. After Hours, featuring Philip Taylor from support band PAWS on guitar, shifts the dynamic towards a rousing finale. The Great Escape is a thumpingly joyous clincher, and Murray and Cain's grins gleam as they depart. But much greater forward thrust is needed soon if this band want everyone else to take them seriously, even if they don't.

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Malcolm Jack

The GuardianTramp

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