Album Reviews

We Are Scientists – With Love And Squalor

(Virgin) UK release date: 17 October 2005


It would be very easy to dismiss We Are Scientists. Very, very easy. So easy in fact, we may as well get it out of the way: bunch of smart-but-geeky indie boys… populist bandwagon… obvious influences… sharp-edged new-wave… punk-pop… music for guitars to dance too… Christ, we really don’t need another band like Bloc Yeah Franz Hot Ferdinand Heat Yeahs Party do we?

And yet, you can’t entirely bring yourself too. It’s undeniable that With Love And Squalor has only one basic idea, a plan to batter you into submission with rat-a-tat-a-thump-a-thump-a drumming, guitars cribbed from a page entitled angular and basslines that move about one position up or down from here, but as plans go, it’s hardly the Charge Of The Light Brigade.

C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas original. Well, ok, that’s a slight case of poetic licence. Occasionally it’s magnificent – the cracking, boundlessly energetic recent single Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt and the goofily anthemic It’s A Hit to name but two – but, overall the album has only one pace. The fact that one pace is “neeeeeeeeeeoooowwwwwm”, means that, after a while, it all becomes a bit much to take.

You long for an interlude and when it (sort of) appears with Textbook, We Are Scientists finally stop sliding towards being that well meaning but oh-so annoying friend who won’t take no for an answer, dragging you to a club and demanding that “you dance with me right now please please please and start having a good time or I’m going to scream and scream and scream until I’m sick!!!”. It’s a welcome chance for all and sundry to just settle down, relax and have a little breather.

Then when they pick the pace back up, you can deal with it a bit better and the results are great: Lousy Reputation is utterly enormous, a monolithic chorus, Duracell bunny drumming and guitar loop Nick Zinner would be delighted with, and Worth The Wait actually, uh, is, punchy and with real bite and bile in the vocals.

With Love And Squalor is a good record – four, maybe five stunning tracks out of twelve and simple mathematics should tell you that. But listening to it from beginning to end simply isn’t fun, and while that’s due to an incessant desire to please, it doesn’t change the simple truth that it can annoy the hell out of you: it’s an album which doesn’t ever quit, even when it probably should.

That said, there is definitely room for them on the crowded bandwagon. They just need to be a little less eager, a little less unrelenting with the pacing and then they wouldn’t exasperate so. It’s not quite lead into gold thus far, but these scientists might yet crack it.


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