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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
We Are Scientists
With Love and Squalor
Virgin Records

Rating: 4.5/10 ?

January 9, 2006
Men of science finish their thoughts and do not end incomplete lyrics by singing, "Uh, uh, uh, oh, oh." Men of science do not generally go out and drink themselves "...into excess" for any purpose other than scientific research, unless of course it's been a particularly stressful day at the lab. And even if they do, they don't talk about getting wasted all the time and weakly protest about how tired they are of waking up on the floor of somebody else's apartment. Men of science do not wake up in a puddle of their own puke.

No, We Are Scientists are not men of science. At heart, they're shallow dandies who think they're Franz Ferdinand or The Killers. Whoever the singer is, he sounds like a foppish Las Vegas lounge MC who is convinced that he's going to score with all the bored housewives in the audience. All he's got to do is drop his voice down a couple of octaves to make it sexy. What's worse, We Are Scientists don't have the decency to even attempt to do something original, having copped all the hooks for their putrid post-punk dance party debut, With Love & Squalor, from mall music store songbooks of the aforementioned bands' hits - thin as they are. God, didn't they both release their debuts like five minutes ago?

Here's a quick synopsis: With Love & Squalor has buoyant, accelerating melodies powered by throbbing, yet ungainly bass lines - see "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt," "It's A Hit" and the disjointed disco closer, "What's The Word" - and predictably angular, siren-like guitars that spin out like helicopters about to go down in a heap in tracks like "The Great Escape." The overblown production creates an oil slick of sound. Presumably designed to beef up With Love & Squalor, it amounts to a scrawny shirtless kid flexing his bicep in front of a mirror and vainly pushing the muscle with his opposite hand to make it look bigger. The guitars are studio produced to the desired thickness on "Callbacks," but the effect is like a dummy grenade. You're waiting and waiting, but there's no explosion.

But that's not the half of it. What really sinks With Love & Squalor is the lyrical subject matter. It has that having-a-revelation-at-a-kegger quality that gets the chicks right in the heart. In "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt," a song about secret liaisons, We Are Scientists would gladly offer up their bodies to sexual partners - probably female, but who's to say - to use in any way they see fit. Penthouse Forum, here they come. Then there's the one about the guy trying to be a bigger man, a grown-up, who's not going to let the "Lousy Reputation" of a girl throw him off, no sir, despite how openly she advertises her goodies. Get the producers of the OC on the phone ASAP; I think we've got ourselves a plot, folks.

All you have to know about We Are Scientists can be summed up in this line: "I'm not going to wait for anything to happen/All of this at once/I'm ready for the cash-in." With Love & Squalor can be a hook-filled delight that'll have your head bobbing and spin you around like a top. It's bouncy and fun and the songwriting has, on occasion, a real sharpness to it. But then you hear the ringing guitar supernova of "Lousy Reputation," and as cool as it is, you've heard it before on "Mr. Brightside." For 80s nostalgia freaks, you might find that We Are Scientists have a few things in common with The Cure, and you might find that charming. But that'll tide you over only so long before you realize this is nothing more than a major label trying to play catch-up by signing somebody who sounds like the flavor-of-the-month.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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