We Are Scientists

With Love and Squalor
(Virgin)

Don't let the band's name, the band members' eyeglasses, or the kittens they're brandishing on the album cover fool you. The dudes in We Are Scientists look every bit as awkward as beloved femme-punk trio Le Tigre, but thankfully pocket protectors often conceal the hearts of lions. The California trio's booming, boogie-down sound is well captured on this debut full-length, along with front man Keith Murray's wailing Lydonesque vocals and potent guitar lines. Best are "The Great Escape" (about bravely breaking through the status quo) and the antithetical "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt," which touches upon the safety of standing still in a world where any experience is often painful. Both tunes are backed by music as shake-worthy as Le Tigre's dance-party anthem "Deceptacon," a tremendous compliment to lionhearted nerds everywhere.

 
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