We Are Scientists

With Love and Squalor

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While Keith Murray (vocals/guitar), Chris Cain (bass), and Michael Tapper (drums) don a nerdy math-chic look, their glossy indie rock sound is all style. With Love and Squalor marks the band's major-label debut release for Virgin. Sure, fans of Bloc Party, the Killers, the Rapture, and Franz Ferdinand will most likely take to this snazzy 12-song set; however, We Are Scientists offer one element that the rest of the pack does not: more substance than shtick. With Love and Squalor is accessible enough for mainstream alternative rock fans, but also slick enough for those indie rock loyalists who still worship the Smiths. Album opener "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt" highlights the band's sexiest side with chunky guitar hooks and a flirty, danceable chorus. Murray's nervy vocals are a near match for Gene's Martin Rossiter as he croons, "My Body is your body/I won't tell anybody/If you want to use my body/Go for it." Some might think their introduction is a bit brash, but We Are Scientists immediately succeed in keeping cool and cockiness parallel. "This Scene Is Dead" and "Callbacks" curve around punky, fist-pumping rhythms while "Worth the Wait" and "The Great Escape" toy with art rock aesthetic. Unlike the Killers' Hot Fuss, With Love and Squalor is not a pretentious package. We Are Scientists come off well in being both snide and playful. Finding that balance is what makes With Love and Squalor a solid debut.

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