Sunday, September 12, 2010

Album Review: The Script - Science & Faith (3.5/5)

Two years ago, Irish three-piece band The Script delivered self-titled their debut album; an eclectic mix of sounds varying from guitar-driven pop to R&B; also responsible for landing the band their biggest UK hit so far ("The Man That Can't Be Move") and their biggest US hit ("Breakeven"). And whilst its eclectic outlook didn't necessarily strike a chord with critics, The Script was a huge success--with a double platinum UK certification, 5x platinum Irish certification and a WMA Award for Best Selling Irish Act under their belt, The Script were definitely one of the biggest bands to emerge in 2008.

Now onto the follow up, Science & Faith. As you can probably tell from the somber title--this time they're more serious. Unsurprisingly, this time it's more about lyrics than sound--which would explain why there is so little variation in the arrangement and compositions in nearly all of the songs. It does sound like they're all cut from same alternative rock/pop vein, which sounds overworked and exhausted half-way into the album. But it is very topic-heavy and underneath the standard drub of alternative rock/pop is a layer of heart-ache and strong emotions, which I can't yet tell if it was a smart ploy get people who normally listen to music for the sound to listen to the lyrics, as one of many things critics criticized The Script for in fact their lyrics. Although I disagree, I thought their lyrics were fine, I thought the storytelling was great too, especially in "We Cry" and "Man Who Can't Be Moved."

Opening is "You Won't Feel a Thing," a progressive guitar-laced number backed with rapid drumming and soaring harmonic "oohs" in the background vocals. The lyrics are interesting and very heart-felt as it sets the tone for the albums rather dark aura. It talks about being dragged down by life ("I've been kicked right down, I've been spat in the face/I've been beat up robbed and left for dead") ultimately it's a 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' fable. If anything, it's an invigorating start to the album. Next up is the piano and guitar-driven pop of "For the First Time," it has a lighter melody, but still pretty dark but with a hint of optimism best summed in the lyric: "We're smiling but we're close to tears."

"Nothing" packs more of a punch in its chorus, but it's still the same piano, guitar and drum arrangement. Title track "Science & Faith" deliverers another pack-punching chorus but slightly shaking things up with a distinctive plucking electronic guitar underneath the piano, guitar and drum arrangement. At this point the frustrating re-tread of the same sound is very boring but that aside the last half of the album does manage churn out some winning tracks (through their lyrics of course).

The lyrical approach to "If You Ever Come Back" is interesting. It talks about wishing you had someone back just so you could experience the things that you didn't like about them and made you breakup in the first place... I guess it's a weird sense of closure. The lyrics in "Long Gone and Moved On" isn't as good but interesting all the same; talking about the inability to move on after a crumbling relationship has ended. Next up is "Dead Man Walking;" a song where the music is actually worth talking about--soaring with orchestratic strings stretched over the drums and violins.

"This = Love" is charged with rapid drums and O'Donoghue's gritty vocals. "Walk Away" is cool change up in sound; delivering a more dynamic production; with piecing strings, aggressive drums and guitars--there's also dramatic solo piano keys in the second verse. Like "You Won't Feel a Thing," closing track "Exit Wounds" soars with harmonic "oohs" in its chorus and background vocals; although they do sound good over the dizzying and climatic drum and electronic guitar driven production.

I applaud The Script for the depth in lyrics, what really brings down the album is the lack of variation within the sound, it's a shame because Science & Faith had the potential to be a real winner but you can't have one side without the other--it would have worked if it held up its side of the music and not just the lyrics. But it's not a huge disappointment, separate the tracks and you have a handful of really good alternative/pop songs with great lyrics.

Best: For the First Time, You Won't Feel a Thing, Nothing, Science & Faith, Dead Man Walking


ww_adh said...

This doesn't sound that worthwhile. I don't think I'll be getting it. I wasn't blown away by their first album anyway.

J.Mensah said...

Yeah, everything sounds the same but I quite their song writing this time around.

Anonymous said...

@ww_adh: It is a very good album which isn't done justice in this review. I happen to be Irish and the amount of pride that these people come from the same country as me is overwhelming. Even if you weren't "blown away" by their first album, they're excellent for cheering you up on a bad day or just listening to casually.

J.Mensah said...

Thanks for commenting! :) To be fair, I did say it was a good album and gave them credit for their lyrical depth this time around.