Armed with a cheeky sense of humor better suited to the West End than the Lower West Side, the quick-witted, New York-via-California trio We Are Scientists concoct a reliable brand of post-punk-infused dance rock that grabs hold from the insistent, serrated first single “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt.” With Love And Squalor (a title cribbed from none other than indie godfather J.D. Salinger) overflows with bouncy, angular gems such as the wickedly funny “This Scene Is Dead” and the dub-lite “Can’t Lose.” Frontman Keith Murray, drummer Michael Tapper, and guitarist Chris Cain often sound like The Killers’ really hip roommates—all kicky ‘80s buzz and just enough grit to escape being pegged as glam devotees. Visceral rave-ups like “Callbacks” hint at We Are Scientists’ much-praised live performances; ADHD-afflicted basslines pogo behind Murray’s Cure-ready baritone, grounding these seemingly insubstantial dance-ready ditties in something slightly darker. We Are Scientists’ knowing lyrical irony and heavy reliance upon a tried and true formula leaves the album feeling slight and indifferent toward its conclusion (although “The Great Escape” is a fantastic, mid-album tonic). Despite losing some steam toward the finish, With Love And Squalor marks this threesome as a band worth watching.
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