The Science of Getting It Right
By Siddharth Watal
We Are Scientists, or W.A.S. as they like to be referred to, is a very rare breed of a band. They are making music in a genre full of pretension and posturing, a genre full of bands more interested in looking like a band that makes garage/new wave rock than actually sounding like it. The Strokes, The Killers, The Bravery, The Arcade Fire, and Franz Ferdinand all fall into this category. W.A.S. on the other hand has made an album full of completely un-ironic, utterly fun songs (with one notable exception, more on that later).
With Love and Squalor, named after a J.D. Salinger short story, is an album full of singles. They probably put
the names of the songs into a hat to decide on the single. This is not to say that lead single “Nobody Move,
Nobody Get Hurt” isn’t a great song. It definitely is. The song might count as the must unsubtle pick-up line
ever when in the chorus singer Keith Murray sings “If you want to use my body. Go for it.” The rest of the
songs on the album are just as good and in some cases much better. On “This Scene is Dead” you can’t
really tell if Murray is talking about the bar the narrator is in or the state of music in general. “It’s a Hit”, with
its driving baseline, catchy chorus and soaring vocals is most definitely a hit.
Almost all the songs on the album are insanely catchy and are an undeniably danceable amalgamation of
disco-punk and Nu-New Wave. The only exception is “Can’t Lose” and this difference is what makes it the
best track on the album. While the rest of the songs owe much to The Killers and Franz Ferdinand, “Can’t
Lose” falls somewhere between The White Stripes and Oasis. It is such a jarring departure from the rest of
the album that you can’t help but sit up and listen. It’s no surprise when on the song Murray sings “I’m
breaking my own rules, becoming someone else, well everybody says that I should get over myself.”
There are those that will say that We Are Scientists are the Johnny-come-lately to the whole return of New Wave. That they are just an attempt by a record label to cash in on the craze. While that may very well be true With Love and Squalor is the perfect album for anyone that liked Hot Fuss by The Killers and in some respects is even better than that album. This is the album that everyone was expecting out of Franz Ferdinand but didn’t get.