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Scientific

April 22, 2007

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There’s probably not that many musical movements as misunderstood as new wave. Seen either as a quirky, temporary blip on musical radar or as a campy, cooler-than-it-is-dumb blast from the past, the finer elements of new wave are almost lost in the mists of history. Though the lost art of the wave is apparently stranded in the ‘80s forever, Scientific isn’t going to let the style completely fall out of sight.

With influences that obviously stretch back over a decade’s worth of rock’n’roll development, Scientific boasts a sound well informed by the quirky sounds of new wave, though also strongly rooted in today’s indie scene. It’s a mix that works well on the surface, though it ultimately makes the band’s direction a little hard to decipher. Is it a bunch of revivalists? A well-listened bunch of record nerds? A fun-loving modern act? From the looks of From the Nest of Idea, the world may never know for sure.

With jangly guitars and spacey keyboards that buttress its upbeat pop, Scientific seems lost somewhere between the worlds of Sleater-Kinney and Culture Club. Though the band turns out fairly upbeat keyboard-based pop without becoming syrupy, there’s always a hint of confusion toward its sound that plagues it. Songs like “Fully Out of Time” and “You Wanted Blood” can never decide whether they want to be guitar pop or out-there keyboard rock, indecision that undermines either avenue the band could take on this album.

It’s more of a matter of production than songwriting, however, that makes From the Nest of Idea so elusive. Its songs feature straightforward arrangements that shun the flourishes common with keyboards, while the whole time its pop sense delivers guitar figures with enough personality to hold their own, though there’s never a focal point to the band’s music. A little more time spent dialing in a sound that could order the muddled groups of melodies on this record would provide it with much-needed structure.

The only element Scientific has that serves as any sort of center of attention is its vocals, a feature that backfires on the band. Constricted and nervous, this album’s vocals put a blemish on otherwise enjoyable rock. Though they never become too painful to listen to, Scientific’s music deserves more than to be saddled with such rocky vocals.

Maybe it’s no coincidence this album ends up to be so forgettable. Just like most of the one-hit wonders of new wave’s glory days, they serve a purpose, but quickly evaporate as soon as listeners aren’t immersed in them—a facet of this band’s influences it’ll need to leave in the past if it wants to go anywhere.

– Matt Schild

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