We Are Scientists: Helter Seltzer
April 22nd 2016 | 100% Records | Albums
Photo: Shervin Iainez
For their fifth album ‘Helter Seltzer’, Brooklyn-based power pop troupe We Are Scientists asked their ex-keyboard player Max Hart to produce. Max had just finished a three-year stint as the keyboardist for international super-mega-person Katy Perry, choosing as his final gig Ms. Perry’s performance at the 2015 Super Bowl. Max rented a studio space in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighbourhood, outfitting it with gear he had accumulated over a decade of obsessive internet shopping.
In early March, the team got to work and a direction quickly emerged - they would use the tones and trickery of radio pop and Max’s inside- out familiarity with hits like ‘Teenage Dream’ and ‘Firework’ and ‘Dark Horse’ to add a sweet sheen to the new crop of distinctively We Are Scientists songs. The recordings were shipped to mixer Chris Coady at Sunset Sound in L.A. who has quietly emerged in recent years as one of the finest mixers of glossy indie pop. Finally, the music was passed through the deluxe mastering machine that are the ears of Greg Calbi (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Noel Gallagher, Perfume Genius) to add a coat of heft and sparkle, and in January of 2016, nearly a year after construction began, the album was pronounced complete.
"We've always made overtures toward being a pop band, but we've generally had the inclination to obscure those pop leanings in grit and chaos — to screw them up with fuzzed-out tones and raucous performances," says guitarist and vocalist Keith Murray. "It's made us really think about what our musical genre is. We're not punk — we're too interested in making our songs as pretty as possible. We're not straight-up rock — our tastes are too left-of-centre. We're not indie-rock — our heads aren't far enough up our own butts. So finally, after putting as much time into thinking about it as we're apt to — about ten minutes, over beers — we decided that our genre is 'Helter Seltzer.'"
"Declaring a new genre is obviously douchey as hell, though, and impossible to deliver with a straight face," adds bassist Chris Cain, "so we did the noble thing and just made ‘Helter Seltzer’ the album title. It's especially apt for us these days, though. The songs here are more effervescent than we've ever managed to deliver, but they've still maintained a measure of that ‘Helter Skelter’ element — no matter how fizzy and refreshing the tunes are, they've always got a bit of that seamy, scuzzy, 'cult on Spahn Ranch' vibe. “We therefore consider this album, as a vessel of both sweet pop tunes and seltzer outreach,” concludes Chris. “To be a work of undisguised philanthropy on our part."
2. In My Head
3. Too Late
4. Hold On
5. We Need A Word
6. Want For Nothing
7. Classic Love
8. Waiting For You