By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Yet another band of floppy-haired, earnest-looking Brooklyn boys, We Are Scientists truly broke out of the Williamsburg scene ghetto this year with their major-label debut, With Love and Squalor. Their sound is far more melodic than most of their native borough's dark or noisy counterparts, owing to the influence of their home state. Love screams California with sunny melodies and catchy lyrics golden enough to be featured on an episode of The O.C., but there are enough syncopated drums and vocal stops and starts to allow for a proper scenester seizure dance. We Are Scientists opt for nerdy-chic mustaches and schoolboy ties over safety goggles and lab coats. Somewhat strange and regularly random, Scientists are known for their entertaining live shows where bandmates often break out into banter midperformance and encourage audience interaction.
Though they might be polished enough for wider appeal, there's still a sexy element in the band's raunchy guitar work and barely reigned raucous energy. The well-known single "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt" slyly seduces the listener: "My body is your body/I won't tell anybody." And isn't a little innuendo essential to quality rock and roll?
Opening group Art Brut at first seems an unlikely candidate for "latest indie darlings from across the pond," but if the Tate Modern had a pub worthy of Mark E. Smith, AB would be the house band. Funny, crunchy, stupidly astute, and knowingly self-deprecating, the band is the kind of brawl you have with yourself when you're in love with the sound of your voice and are just embarrassed enough to brag about it. Then there's singer Eddie Argos, who, well, doesn't sing. Instead he veritably barks over staccato guitar work that sometimes approaches the rhythm of a military march. And when Art Brut cracks wise with tracks like "Good Weekend" and "Bang Bang Rock 'n' Roll," it's pretty good.
The band's name is taken from a short-lived art movement whose most notable proponent was the painter Jean Dubuffet. And the lyrics are typical British cheek. Check out "My Little Brother Just Discovered Rock and Roll" or "Formed a Band." Still the end result is weirdly danceable, approaching a kind of postpunk spoken-word.