We Are Scientists, With Love and Squalor (Virgin, 2006)

We Are Scientists are not actually scientists; the name came from a U-Haul employee who asked the band members if they were scientists as he was checking their rental truck. (They were wearing glasses at the time.) They are musicians, though, and their second album With Love and Squalor came out in 2006. They were a trio at the time, consisting of Keith Murray (vocals and guitar), Chris Cain (bass and backing vocals), and Michael Tapper (drums). Since then they've replaced their drummer and added a keyboardist, and have another album under their belt.

The band combines punk and hard rock with dance rhythms, in much the same way that Franz Ferdinand did on their debut. (Whatever else you can say about that particular Scottish quartet, they remain influential.) With Love and Squalor is full of high-octane tracks, starting with the opening song and single "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt." This song is defined by the extremely self-explanatory line in the chorus, "if you want to use my body, go for it." The lyrics generally reflect the band's sarcastic sense of humor, but the songs on With Love and Squalor regrettably repeat the same basic themes, namely misadventures out on the town or with a girl. It kind of feels like I'm a therapist and Murray is on the couch, telling me how he messed up yet again, but he's not paying me for the service.

With Love and Squalor is the kind of album where the whole is actually less than the sum of its parts. Most of the songs are really OK by themselves, and "The Great Escape" in particular is worth a few listens, but every song hits you in pretty much the same way. We Are Scientists have some potential, but a little more variety and some positivity would do them a lot of good.

Overall grade: B-

reviewed by Scott

"The Great Escape"

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