We Are Scientists

With Love and Squalor (Virgin)

If We Are Scientists have heard Eazy-E's tale of a bank robbery gone awry, you won't find any lyrical hints beyond the title of "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt," Love and Squalor's leadoff track and first single of their debut album. In fact, song for song, here at the beginning of 2006, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more unapologetically insular indie rock album. These three Pomona grads, fronted by porn-star-mustachioed Miami native Keith Murray, prove attentive — albeit hardly precocious — students, delivering an album that is as familiar as it is sadly detached. As the band's name might suggest, We Are Scientists often sacrifice warmth for clinical precision on songs such as "It's a Hit" and "Inaction," which, armed with the perfunctory trebly bass lines and high-pitch guitars, seem little more than stylistic pretense. Working within such narrow confines, the band should be commended for resisting outright thievery as well as for its occasional Bluresque phrasings on tracks like the "Song 2"-like "The Great Escape," although such accents only momentarily dampen the postpunk déjà vu. Still these songs go down easy, even if easy doesn't always do it.

 
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