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CD Review: We Are Scientists – With Love And Squalor

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The search for “the next big thing” is undertaken by indie bloggers and music journalists the world over on a daily basis, and many times that “next big thing” becomes a big dud in short order. Last year, The Bravery received big press in advance of their debut on Island. Turns out that it took only one listen for most folks to write them off as derivative garbage packaged for unsuspecting music buyers. Kasabian, The Caesars, and Louis XVI are other examples of crappy bands being given undeserved love until folks had the opportunity to look past the hair gel and leather pants and actually listen to the music.

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Which brings us to New Yorkers We Are Scientists, an indie rock three piece that has had their debut released on the not so indie Virgin Records. The fact that they hail from New York ratchets up the hype even more so, as the vibrant rock scene in The Big Apple, buoyed by New York bloggers like Brooklyn Vegan, Central Village, Stereogum, Yeti Don’t Dance and I Rock I Roll cover indie shows with a blanket large enough for every venue in the city.

So, how is the album? Can it live up to the hype? Is We Are Scientists the next big thing? In a word, maybe. The band members are a patient bunch–forming in 2000 and releasing several EPs before finally landing with a label and putting out an LP. Many elements of the album suggest a fully mature band; one in which all members know their defined place in the group, and very little stepping on of toes. However, while the album is fantastic in spots, it is a maddeningly frustrating tease in others. They remind me of Green Day in some ways, most notably on “This Scene Is Dead”, which is not necessarily a compliment, but I find their soft punk elements far less grating than I do their more famous counterparts.

The album’s first single, and the one most recognizable by discerning indie rock nerds is “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt”. The song features a brain invading guitar hook that singer Keith Murray provides as the frame for his desperate vocals.

No song, with the exception of one (“Textbook”-one of the real strong tracks on the album), even sniffs 4 minutes long, and most hover around the 3 minute mark, which I always appreciate. Most of the songs are shot out of a cannon, with very little opportunities for a slow down. One song where they have an opportunity to change up the pace is “Can’t Lose”, which, at a lean 3:31 still finds time to slow up in the middle, but the band doesn’t see the song to a real climax, and I feel like some horny high school kid waiting for the payoff after a date, and the girl just kisses me on the cheek.

With 12 songs on the album, and only a couple that really feel like they weren’t as fully formed as they could have been, it is certainly a solid debut album that suggests that WAS has more to offer down the road. A live show that is well regarded among the hipster set, and a few really good songs and the band will no doubt be closely watched in 2006. A few more hooks, a slower song here and there, and these guys will explode in the future. In a good way, that is.

So, are they “the next big thing”? Probably not, but do they really need to be? Being a good band in a city that is crawling with bands trying to sound half this good, that seems nearly good enough to me.

Essential Tracks: Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt, Lousy Reputation, Textbook, This Scene Is Dead

Download Inaction | mp3

Rant Rating: 73

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About Matt Freelove