Astronautalis — This Is Our Science

written by: September 21, 2011
Release Date: September 13, 2011


Andy Bothwell, better known as Astronautalis, has been making hip-hop dynamic for the better part of a decade. Over the course of three full-length albums, Bothwell has paired hip-hop with indie rock’s best elements to create a wholly unique sound. On This Is Our Science, these disparate genres function as one in the hands of Astronautalis.

“The River, the Woods” opens the album, highlighting Bothwell’s Tom Waits-ian rasp and surefire delivery before bleeding into a gigantic pop hook. Avoiding the pitfalls of commercial hip-hop is key to Astronautalis’ success. While many rappers are content to have one beat run through a track, Bothwell is crafting diverse songs. His ability to shift beats, tempos and tones in the middle of tracks and make it feel natural is testament to his skill.

Past records saw Astronautalis embracing his inner nerd. Instead of crafting verses about how much wealth or charisma he possessed, he’d write songs about the Battle of Trenton or splitting a dozen donuts with Tupac Shakur. This Is Our Science still uses history as a lyrical touchstone, but with deeply personal perspective injected alongside it.

The aptly titled “Thomas Jefferson” features a guest spot from Doomtree’s Sims, in which he references a musket, but it also features a chorus where Bothwell croons, “Every song I sing cuts a little bit more.” “Measure the Globe” opens with a unique anecdote: “Sitting on a futon mat/In a squat in Darmstadt/Kevin Seconds said to me in passing/‘Age never meant shit to me/It’s all about heart and stupidity.’” The track is driven by an acoustic guitar, showing that Bothwell’s eloquence transcends genres.

As the albums bobs and weaves through styles and techniques, Astronautalis crafts some of his strongest songs to date.

“Dimitri Mendeleev,” one of the only tracks that could be considered straightforward hip-hop, boasts a pre-chorus that serves as a mission statement for the entire album, “Won’t be held back/Won’t be tied up/Won’t be pinned down.”

Proving that he won’t be pinned down, Bothwell delves into R&B on “Midday Moon,” sings a duet with Tegan Quin from Tegan And Sara on “Contrails,” and crafts what is surely his most personal song to date, “Secret On Our Lips.” As much of the album does, “Secret On Our Lips” injects heart into genres that are often full of posturing. “I kissed your skin behind the vending machine/You ask me right now why I never did tell/Anyone about your evening with me/I don’t know/Hell, some secrets are just things that you keep.”

This Is Our Science proves to be another powerful entry in an already impressive discography, but it is certainly the album fans have been waiting for. It mixes Astronautalis’ classic nerdy references, but this time it adds Bothwell’s personal experiences to the mix. With his defenses lowered and some of himself on display, Bothwell has created the most impactful record of his career.

Astronautalis – This Is Our Science Tracklist:

  1. “The River, the Woods”
  2. “This Is Our Science”
  3. “Thomas Jefferson”
  4. “Measure the Globe”
  5. “Dimitri Mendeleev”
  6. “Midday Moon”
  7. “Contrails”
  8. “Holy Water”
  9. “Secrets On Our Lips”
  10. “Life the Curse”
  11. “One for the Money”