We Are Scientists: With Love And Squalor

A debut of one dimension, but hey – it’s a good one

This is the indie equivalent of power pop, an unreservedly good thing. We Are Scientists’ debut full-length album is full of post-punk of a particularly energetic and rambunctious sort. The classic three-piece line-up formation – vocals/guitar, bass and drums – and a not uncommon notion of what makes a tune catchy makes for workhorse stuff. Still, they can hold their heads up high and stand proudly alongside their more successful peers – the likes of Hot Hot Heat and Ambulance Ltd – by virtue of their decidedly spiky and rudely lively sound.

The stand out track on ‘With Love And Squalor’ is doubtless ‘The Great Escape’, boasting a guitar riff so massive Steve McQueen himself would be hard-pressed to clear it on motorbike, but would likely flatten against the side like a puppy hitting a suburban SUV. Each of the Scientists seem to be striving independently to create one of the most engaging indie dancefloor-crashers of the year, in a standoff that somehow coalesces neatly into the stoic chorus “I got a great idea/I’m going to wait right here/While everything is adding up.”

To whet your appetite for that, there’s the lesser success in a similar vein of album opener and first single ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’, another heart-quick crescendo of oblique excitement, with a nicely suggestive cut to it. But the near-relentless pace of the album is bound to grow tiresome unless you happen to be in the gym ‘pushing through the burn’ or ‘feeling the zone’ or whatever the hell happens in those places, and when a moment of slight reprise does come – for example, with the more maudlin ‘Textbook’ – the album flounders at a formula the Scientists have yet to fully master.

The lyrics, in their more lucid moments, seem content noodling round the highs, lows and infatuations of the New York party scene, which isn’t exactly the road less-travelled; if We Are Scientists manage to exhibit in their music more of the gloriously quirky sense of humour that’s rife in their videos and on their website, we might get to something more distinctive and memorable. In the meantime this is still an accomplished pack of coiled, brash rock with a jarring energy softened by a catchy way with a tune.

Alan Trotter