Science and Faith impresses all

The Script plays a show at the Sala Apollo de Barcelone in March 2009.  (credit: Courtesy of alterna2 on flickr) The Script plays a show at the Sala Apollo de Barcelone in March 2009. (credit: Courtesy of alterna2 on flickr)

The Irish pop rock group The Script is a late bloomer when it comes to mainstream success. The group released its first album just over two years ago in August 2008, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2010 that the musicians got what they had been working toward. Their second single, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved,” got significant attention over the airwaves, but it was their follow-up, “Breakeven,” that dominated radio stations for quite some time. Now, with the band’s sophomore release, Science and Faith, The Script is back with more to say.

The leadoff track, “You Won’t Feel a Thing,” is a great way to kick-start the album. Though listeners don’t hear words for the first minute of the song, when things get going, the lyrics really take off. An energetic drum beat complements the fast-paced verses, and suddenly we’re in the thick of the music. The next track, “For the First Time,” has a toughness in the verses, and its lyrics serve as a political commentary. “Nothing” is a song of confession. Throughout the song, lead singer Danny O’Donoghue asks, “Am I better off dead? Am I better off a quitter? They say I’m better off now than I ever was with her.” O’Donoghue’s signature voice, a sugar-coated strain, is fragile and captivating. It’s almost as if he could sing the phone book and evoke an emotion within listeners.

Just based on its name alone, the title track would seem like a boring criticism on the endless debate between religion and science, but The Script gives an interesting answer as to which the band prefers: neither. The song talks about how the kind of love they’re feeling is indescribable, as the U2-esque chorus proclaims: “You won’t find faith or hope down a telescope; you won’t find heart and soul in the stars. You can break everything down to chemicals, but you can’t explain a love like ours.” Next on the track lineup is “If You Ever Come Back,” which relies on verses that depart from the expected musicality. Instead, the verses are made up of freestyle, quick-paced spoken lines about how the narrator has lost a lover but still goes on with life as if planning on making a return trip in the near future.

“Dead Man Walking” maintains a typical Script musical score, but becomes a bit experimental when it comes to the vocals. The chorus surprises us with some high notes that sound as if they were sung by Adam Levine of Maroon 5. The lyrics are repeated a lot throughout the tune, so the song feels surprisingly short.

“This=Love” sounds a bit like the boys got caught up in the energy and forgot how to pull back. The verses are pretty calm and vocally monotonous, but during the chorus, everything starts happening. There’s a bunch of cymbal crashes that don’t really fit a rhythm, and the word “love” is said a bit too much in that short amount of time. Then, all of a sudden, there’s an amateur rap tossed in before the song’s final verse.

“Walk Away” is another confession song, but an atypical one. For this tune, O’Donoghue begs his lover to leave rather than stay. It’s a warning to his lady friend: “’Cause I’ll never let you leave, never let you breathe; ’cause if you’re looking for heaven, baby it sure as hell ain’t me.”

Science and Faith caps out at just 10 songs, and the finale, “Exit Wounds,” doesn’t let us down gently, as some albums do. Instead, the band maintains their pop-rock persona, with O’Donoghue baring his soul. The lyrics echo the narrator’s last few moments, and the accompanying music fades out gently as if his breathing slowed to nothing.

Listen up: “You Won’t Feel a Thing,” “Science and Faith,” “Exit Wounds”

The verdict: With a gently produced sound and a lead singer with a charming and layered voice, The Script returns with a second album that, although not entirely a home run, is far from a sophomore slump.