WE ARE SCIENTISTS – Love And Squalor (Virgin)

If ever there was proof that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it is this album. Three geeky guys holding kittens in front of their faces does not bode well, but put the disc in the player and you get 37 minutes of top notch indie guitar rock. First single and opening track ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ is an excellent start, but pales next to the sonic overload that is ‘This Scene Is Dead’, with the guitars bursting through the speakers for the chorus. ‘Can’t Lose’ is more of the same, with a deceptively normal verse and a sledgehammer chorus, whereas ‘Callbacks’ eschews the quiet bit altogether and bludgeons you all the way through the song. ‘It’s A Hit’ should have been, but of course it wasn’t, and album highlight ‘The Great Escape’ encapsulates everything the band are about in three minutes, from its ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ intro to the XTC spikiness of the tune. ‘Textbook’ is the only relatively slow song on this album, and therefore breaks up the flow somewhat, but it is still pretty good, just lacking the power of most of the other stuff on here. ‘Lousy Reputation’ and ‘What’s The Word’ are back to the great indie power pop, and ‘Worth The Wait’ has a jerky Futureheads feel to it. It is odd that all of the influences that I can hear in this US band’s music are British groups, but perhaps that is why it sounds so fresh, and so unlike a lot of the current crop of American bands. Don’t be put off by the image – use your ears and experience one of the best albums of the year.