Spun: We are Scientists

By Garth Paulson

Listening to We are Scientists’ debut album, With Love and Squalor, you can only feel sorry for them. It’s a good album but it’s sadly about three years too late to make any significant impact.

The noble Scientists’ plight is a tragic one because they deserve better than they’re going to receive from Squalor. Unless the band can drastically alter their sound they are destined to become an also-ran mentioned in passing when future scholars skim over the Strokes/Killers/Bravery/Hot Hot Heat/Franz Ferdinand/Maximo Park somewhat dancey, fashion conscious, guitar rock craze of the early to mid oughts. They will become to suit jackets, tight pants and scarves what the Stone Temple Pilots were to flannel and ripped jeans, it’s a shame.

With Love and Squalor is, over all, an appealing listen. The band distils the sounds of the bands it will be endlessly compared to into a tight three-piece and comes out all the better for it. The dance beats are blatant, the hip-sway inducing bass isn’t buried behind questionable synthesizers and the ironic, entendre-laced lyrics are easy to pick out and delightfully catchy. The band’s true strength, however, hangs around Keith Murray’s shoulders and boasts six strings. Murray’s guitar skills are simply astonishing. Shying away from the typical trio slap-you-in-the-face power chord riffery Murray composes deft, intricate riffs both infectious and head scratching.

Yet, With Love and Squalor can’t escape the bare facts stacked up against it. There is no denying the album is a late addition to a saturated scene already past its best days and isn’t able to provide a needed kick in the pants. Fortunately, the band recognizes their predicament, best exemplified on the tongue-in-cheek “This Scene is Dead,” so there’s still hope they’ll amount to more than being remembered as those guys who started wearing pink a few years after it was hip.