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We Are Scientists: With Love And Squalor

Press for We Are Scientists seemingly can't exist without references to The Killers, The Strokes, Interpol, or similar-sounding bands, and to a certain degree, the group's full-length debut, With Love And Squalor, justifies that. The album has plenty of disco drumbeats, bouncy basslines, hooky guitar parts, and echoey, vaguely affected vocals—all of them the inherent characteristics of the dance-y post-punk that's overwhelmed airwaves for the past few years. The leadoff track, "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt" has them all in such perfect symbiosis that it almost sounds prefabricated to move units.

In that sense, With Love And Squalor practically begs for a quick, brutal dismissal. But just as The Killers' dizzyingly catchy Hot Fuss overwhelmed detractors' voices, With Love And Squalor accomplishes the same with its immediate likeability. The songs sound deceptively simple, but their complexity quietly reveals itself on subsequent listens. The same usually can't be said for the other bands who play this style. Hot Fuss was like cotton candy: an immediate, ephemeral, sugar rush. With Love And Squalor is more like an energy bar: still a sugar rush, but a more filling one.


We Are Scientists' setup—guitar, bass, drums—helps ground it in power-trio efficiency. The group makes the most of it; the instruments usually play different, though complementary, parts to give the songs more sonic texture. Without a keyboard—a staple/crutch of this style—Keith Murray's guitar has to provide most of the hooks and power, and his aggressive playing makes the album propulsive, especially on the brisk rocker "Callbacks." Almost all of With Love And Squalor's songs have a shape-shifting intensity, particularly the one-two-three punch of "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt," "This Scene Is Dead," and "Inaction," none of which really sound alike, though they all share a certain urgency.

Even though With Love And Squalor quickly ingratiates itself, some of its best parts reveal themselves over time. Whether doubters of We Are Scientists allow for that to happen remains to be seen, but With Love And Squalor works regardless.


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