During their recent session with Marc Riley on Radio 6 Music, it was mentioned that WE ARE THE PHYSICS first appeared on the show some five years ago in 2007. That was also the year I recorded my first interview for ARTROCKER MAGAZINE – the subject matter being, yeah …. WE ARE THE PHYSICS. (If I remember correctly ,we were banished out into the cold winter air when Michael Guitar was refused a beer at the bar because he could not prove his age …. despite the band being provided with crates of complimentary beer in their dressing room!)
Anyway, since then WATP have released their debut album to much critical acclaim; produced a couple of now sold-out singles; toured the UK several times; played shows in Russia, Japan, Finland (alongside several death-metal bands – work that one out!) and toured with / supported bands as varied as Polysics (their favourite early inspirational band) Franz Ferdinand, Art Brut and 30 Seconds To Mars.
Consequently, their hyperactive brand of ‘b-movie-sci-fi-punk’ (it’s really not too easy to define their sound!) has reached a large and varied audience and the combination of their almost comic book appearance and stage antics together with this rather indefinable sound has endeared them to pretty much everyone who has seen / heard them.
A few cynical commentators (who were likely just in a foul mood ‘cause somebody stole their scone) point to the similarity in style that runs throughout the WATP songs. Yeah, OK – I don’t suppose you can deny the formula of abrupt, jerky, manic guitar; staccato, yelped vocals; hand claps and machine gun attack drums. But listen to within the ‘style’ and you will certainly hear variation enough. And more often than not, that ‘variation,’ be it guitar effects, samples or just clever, synchronised vocal interplay between the band, will raise a smile. Although, perhaps maybe not quite so much on ‘There Is No Cure For The Common Cold So Don’t Expect A Cure For Cancer’ – I don’t think they were playing for laughs on this one.
In fact, this is one of the songs where indeed the ‘style’ of music has actually taken a turn for WATP. It shows they can slow the pace and be a little more reflective. Of course, this doesn’t last too long as the next track is ‘Goran Ivanisevic’ – an homage to the Croatian ex-tennis player. And although songs like the crowd favourite ‘Napoleon Loves Josephine’ hark back to the ‘old’ Physics, I can sense a subtle change within ‘Your Friend, The Atom.’
This change comes partly as a result of the band’s growing maturity (sounds strange, doesn’t it – the word ‘maturity’ being used in context with WATP?!) but also I think the production sounds slicker than on the debut ‘ … Are OK At Music’ album. There seems to be a more rounded sound; more depth. And in places, there is more of a harder edge to the music; a little heavier. For example, ‘Eat Something’ crashes in more like Mad Capsule Markets than Polysics … although ultimately there’s no mistaking it’s a WATP song!
Likewise, ‘Junkie Buns’ kicks in with a more conventional rock refrain and although ‘Circuit Babies’ is more like what we’d expect from the band, they incorporate a kind of stern, disciplined Russian sounding chorus.
But perhaps the real indicator as to where WE ARE THE PHYSICS are headed is in the final track, ‘Olivia Neutron Bomb.’ This is their first venture into ‘anthemic rock’ and is arguably the best on the album. It’s certainly different to all the other thirteen, what with its chugging, Blink 182 / Box Car Racer styled rhythm and all.
Maybe, like Olivia’s character Sandy in the final scene of ‘Grease,’ we are to witness a transformation and style change of dramatic proportions? I wouldn’t be surprised … but then, who really knows where WE ARE THE PHYSICS are concerned?
(Released through This Is Fake DIY Records on 22nd October 2012)
(10 / 10 – obviously!)