We Are The Physics: made to fill the quota of music powered by science and smashing expensive things. The Glaswegian new-wave particle punker’s second album isn’t as self aware as its predecessor We Are The Physics Are OK at Music (which featured 3D art work i.e. cut-out figurines of the band), but it contains more of the same school-boy inspired intense nerd fumbling that has turned them into one of the biggest scientific cult icons since Nikola Tesla, as well as helping them gain support slots with Art Brut and 30 Seconds to Mars and a live session BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley.
First track “Go Go Nucleo -> For Science” is the test tube sampler of the album. It hits the nail right on The Futureheads influence with the harmonized screams of “SCIENCE!”, whilst the wailing alien sound invading the end draws the curtain on their B-movie aesthetic. Similarly the latest single “Napoleon Loves Josephine” sports the same nostalgic sacrilege with its surf-rock-esque riff, to the music video’s grainy footage and manikin robot inspired dancing.
If you’re initially repellent to the coarse chants, loud smashes and mish-mashed electronic bips dotted throughout the 14 tracks, particularly in “ (e.g. Apollo 11)”, “Eat Something” and “Junkie Buns”, things actually appear to become more co-ordinated and, daresay, ordered with repeated listening. That’s right; this is an album that defies entropy and the laws of thermodynamics themselves (when poorly understood and applied)!
That’s not to suggest at all though that it should find its way in your Sunday afternoon collection of course, but merely that there’s a formula to it. Ignoring the title of “Dildonics” for a second, the constant song stopping hammering and singing from Michael M (that can hardly be described as such) may seem like the musical equivalent of roller derby, but even roller derby has a set of ill defined and often broken rules along with its myriad pile of broken bones.
And as fictional ‘mutant science punk rock’ goes; this is pretty deep subject matter. In the spiritual successor to their previous album’s exploration of the post-human, the questions in “Applied Robotics” on whether the band’s endless need for glasses, fear of evolving diseases and “when small packets of software started having sex” might be the first of its kind in music. Body image and sociology is given a tug too, least of all in songs “And So Now We're Wrestling With The Body Politic”, “Eat This”, and most prominently in “Goran Ivansisevic”, where one man’s attempt to tirelessly model himself after the tennis legend is compared to the dark fate of Alan Turing, although the line “to fail is art, to art is fail” should have been followed with “to fail is fail” for internet nerdyness’ sake.
Meanwhile ‘”All My Friends Are JPEGs” ranks as one of the best unorthodox anti-facebook anthems ever conceived, “There Is No Cure For The Common Cold So Don't Expect A Cure For Cancer” more or less speaks for itself, and the less said about the gruesome imagery in “Circuit Babies” the better.
Though the band immediately corrected their promise that this album would be a “self-replicating virus that deletes all other mp3s on computers” as a lie, listeners won over by normality should probably ignore it just the same. For the rest, though it’s even harder to explain than the Higgs Boson, My Friend the Atom smacks musical expectations and understanding with an aluminium bat, forces you to think about the forces behind said smacking and what that means for us and the Universe at large.