At this point, my penchant for dancing is beginning to wear thin.
In 2005 the mainstream saw a surprising emergence of indie bands who, like a snake charmer with his flute, got the toes of American tapping with their modern dance-rock grooves. Ever since, the bass heavy sway, the semi-electronic trill, and the pick-a-minute hook with which The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and Hot Hot Heat invaded our minds have become a major rock and roll standard. It's been done, done, and done again and mostly to great effect.
But as we've seen most recently with the "emo" trend, the "ska" trend, and the "pop-punk" trend: after a while if you don't give a genre a little creative CPR, it's going to lose its flavor, and fast. Perhaps I stand alone here, but I feel the wave of dance-rock has not received enough medical attention. While new artists like Men, Women, and Children still send my pulse soaring, We Are Scientists haven't found that kindling just yet.
It's hard to point to a flaw because, as with so many records, it's not what you hear, it's what you don't. The vocals are spot on, and instrumentally the foundation is rock hard. What With Love and Squalor fails to do though, is build upon this foundation. In almost every track I expected a skyscraper, and yet the elevator stopped a couple stories short. A major shortcoming in this whole dance-rock deal is the low malleability of the sound; rarely can a band effectively stretch it to envelop the girth of a full length record.
We Are Scientists have conjured 12 really good songs, championed by the more adventurous "Can't Lose" and rarely flinching from a straight forward but successful formula. It's a good time had by all, but despite what there is to enjoy, With Love and Squalor does not manage to achieve any of the depth or importance found in the subtly heartbreaking J.D. Salinger short from which the record draws its name.
"It doesn't have to be terribly prolific! Just so that it isn't childish and silly." Esmé reflected. "I prefer stories about squalor."