Art vs. Science are an up-and-coming Australian dance-pop band, and they’ve adopted the time-honored strategy of yelling really loudly in hopes of getting your attention. By the end of this 12-track offering, they’ve exhausted you either with their tireless downbeats and unlimited energy or by pounding their riffs into your psyche. It’s the sound of a battle (if you take the “vs” part literally), and only one side can emerge victorious. So which is this album–art or science?
“Parlez-Vous Francais”, one of the earliest tracks, is a perfect example of the band’s free-form, bohemian approach to their work. This one’s pure art. Partially in French, the track thunders on amid high-pitched synth, grinding bass, and a driving motive: to pick up some filles franÃ§aises—ironically, of course. It’s a fun romp, if lyrically repetitive. The band isn’t afraid of genre-bending, and it shows—a few tracks are reminiscent of the Talking Heads at their most eclectic. But while the Heads’ sense of humor was never far away, Art vs. Science are sometimes in danger of taking themselves too seriously.
Coming in on the side of science are the band’s influences. Their brand of dance-rock was allegedly coined after vocalist Dan Mac saw a Daft Punk concert and came home with a disease. The only cure, as they say, was more cowbell (or in this case, more electro-dance beats). But while Daft Punk, those futuristic, helmet-wearing groundbreakers, allow their ditties to take flight every once in a while, creating shimmery soundscapes that the listener can lose themselves in effortlessly, there’s always something grounding Art vs. Science, even on dreamier tracks like “With Thoughts We Create the World”. The sound they craft here is unique but not addictive—they’re still missing that something, that je ne sais quoi, which has endeared Daft Punk to so many different types of music lovers. The approach here is too cold and clinical.
So which one wins, art or science? It’s a tough call. “Finally See Our Way” is probably the highlight, displaying an accessibility—and a simplicity—that the rest of the album sometimes struggles with. What it lacks in charm, it makes up for in sheer rock bravado. Soundgarden would be proud. We’ll give that point to science.
Essential tracks: “Parlez-Vous Francais”, “With Thoughts We Create the World”, and “Finally See Our Way”