NME Awards Tour

We Are Scientists + Maximo Park - Portsmouth Guildhall - February 2006

Images: ©2006 Stuart Leech - www.music.stuartleechphotos.co.uk

by Armchair Anarchist

We Are Scientists look like they have day jobs with a software development company. On-stage they’re all dead-pan banter and self-deprecation - a contrast with their music which sounds ‘current’ and uniquely distinctive. They produce a surprisingly big noise for a three-piece. The songs move to rat-a-tat rhythms from the drums, layered with angular bass lines. An effect-drenched architecture of discordant guitar sits neatly on top. Spacey, chugging verses move into open-chord choruses at the drop of a hat, all capped with strong yet quirkily nasal vocals. Imagine all the worthwhile bits of emo with all the tedious whinging and magazine mannerisms stripped away. Imagine songs that are (gasp!) actually about things other than the songwriter! They deserve to be huge. Despite being the headliners, Maximo Park suffer slightly from following that band that everyone really came to see. However, they outperform them by a country mile. They display energy and conviction that almost outshine the light show blazing behind them. The sound is a sleazy New Wave thing - like drowning in the 80s with a head full of acid. The singer radiates charisma, a spazzy theatrical presence that brings the songs to life. The twitchy keyboard bloke is playing grooves and riffs rather than chords. The rest of the band lay down refreshingly tuneful songs with clean tones and memorable melodies. Every song is distinct and different – their sound is diverse enough to allow some variance in style and structure. Although not my usual cup of tea, Maximo Park have the potential to last for more than one album. Shame no one gives awards for that, eh?