From The Nest Of Idea
Burnt Toast Vinyl
By: Eric G.
Two questions I have before digging into this review: why is an album released on a label called Burnt Toast Vinyl even pressed on compact disc, and why do the members of this band dress like Joan Jett's Blackhearts circa 1981? If anyone can answer these just email…actually, you know what? Don't worry about it. I probably won't ever think about it again.
Scientific is a quartet from Chicago, but, no, it doesn't sound like The Jesus Lizard at all. Guess again. Nope, the band sounds like a goth version of Barcelona with crisp indie rock guitars underpinned with authentic 80's synthesizers, analogue drums, and fairly catchy hooks and choruses. The vocals remind me of what Mac McCaughan from Superchunk would sound like if his voice were two octaves lower and had a tad less panache. Despite Christian Wargo's borderline Smurf factor, he has a clean voice and belts out his semi-melancholic pop with a sense of urgency.
The music doesn't necessarily follow Wargo's vocal cues, often sounding more upbeat and poppy than his vocals would imply. Some songs do morph into moody, atmospheric ballads, though. The pretentiously titled "An Evening Perhaps" goths out on us, revealing The Cure influence we knew was there all along. The band sheds the darkness quickly, however, bursting into the upbeat, semi-rocking "Not Rarely Inclined." Scientific's indie pop side shines here. Wargo actually joins the fun bobbing along dutifully to the peppy keyboards and jangling guitars.
The band cites all Stephin Merritt-related bands as influences as well as the likes of Stereolab and Yo La Tengo, but apart from generic instrumental similarities I can barely decipher the tracks of any of them. Scientific does recall darker pop from the 80's underground, though, on "A Valued Judgment"- this EP's finest song. Wargo's vocals seem most at home with tension and a slight strain, and the ominous bass and keyboard lines provide him the perfect setting for his darker musings.
"You Wanted Blood" reverts back to pure noisy indie pop. The synthesizers, thankfully, don't invariably invoke 80's nostalgia. Sometimes the band incorporates them as an underlying element, where they add some much-needed style. On this EP Scientific struggles a bit with identity and direction, but the elements for success are there in addition to a few classic pop songs.