All brains no brawn

first_imgWith Love and SqualorWe are Scientistsout 17 October2/5Do not be surprised if by the end of the noughties music critics suggest that the greatest invention of the decade is rock music you can dance to. For years this has been the music world’s equivalent of the Rubik cube: it looks easy, but the only simple solution is to cheat and swap the stickers around. This is what we saw in the nineties when, after the charm of pogoing on a stomach of Skol beer to the school disco charm of Girls and Boys and Roll With It went flat, millions of rock fans flooded to dance music and bought Prodigy and Chemical Brothers records. But it just wasn’t quite the same.Now in 2005 we can’t move for rock bands that want to shake your booty. When Franz Ferdinand arrived on the scene eighteen months ago the floodgates opened, and now all the kids are getting down to “Future Dogs Die in Kaiser Ferdinand’s Hot Hot Car Party”, as Andy Partridge from XTC recently remarked. Add to this the already existing American wave, Interpol, The Bravery and The Rapture, and you  have to feel slight pity towards the latest New York band to try and make it big on this side of the Atlantic, We Are Scientists. The Scientists certainly look the part, in the sense that they look exactly like most of the other bands mentioned above who are all equally guilty of stealing the geek chic look from Seth off The OC.The first track on this, their debut LP, is also their first single, Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt which sounds so much like the watereddown glam of nineties nearly-band King Adora that the lawsuit must be in the post. Things fail to pick up with This Scene Is Dead as immaculately coiffed singer frontman Keith Murray sings in a bored voice, “I shouldn’t even be here/much less drinking myself into excess”. For posturing and lyrics, hang out with Morrissey. What quickly becomes inescapable about With Love and Squalor is simply its enormous derivativeness.The album could be neatly autopsied and the composite elements of this hybrid given back to their original owners. Such is the way with scenes in music that an idea develops which is recycled into something vaguely new, in this case Franz Ferdinand updating XTC and Orange Juice’s spiky pop for the modern dancefloor.Then what seemed exciting quickly goes cold through the horrendous number of parasitic bands that follow. This, sadly, is the fate of thisband. There are some neat touches: Can’t Lose has a good slap bass and Lousy Reputation plateaus nicely to create the sort ofgiant sugar rush that Bloc Party have perfected. It’s A Hit has the album’s best chorus, but the bassline has been shamelessly  pilfered from Queens of the Stone Age’s Feel Good Hit of the Summer. If there was ever an original idea on this album, it was soon embarrassedly replaced by another bouncy Franz bassline to fill the quota. Ultimately whether We Are Scientists make it or not depends on how much more of this stuff listeners can stand. Their recent sell-out tour with Editors suggests they’ll be around for a while, but as Murray himself predicts, this scene is dead and soon his clairvoyance may be in greater demand than his music. ARCHIVE: 1st week MT 2005last_img

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