The Cloud Room

+ We Are Scientists - The Wedge - October 2005

Images: ©2005 Stuart Leech -

by Armchair Anarchist

It’s good to see support bands at a busy show and this gig’s a sell-out, so there's a full Wedge audience to see these much-feted next-big-things. First up are The Cloud Room. The Cloud Room are cool. And they know it; the press and their A&R have told them so. They’re dressed in thrift shop chic - dark colours, tight fits. They’ve got that aloof-ironic-bored look down pretty well, too. They are definitely not going to shatter the ice by doing anything un-cool like, you know, ‘rocking out’. The music fits the look, as one might expect. Simple guitar lines angle-jangle around while the bass and keys keep it on the root notes. The drummer plays disco loops on a rock kit and seems frustrated at having little to get his teeth into. The singer sounds like a drunk and shambolic Sinatra. It’s pacey but somehow still languid; very NY, lounge rock as purveyed by a rather well known act from the same city (you know, rhymes with ‘blokes’). And did I mention they're cool? Yeah, they don’t care about anything. But the fact that they want you to acknowledge this coolness becomes apparent as they proceed through a tight and well-structured set to a very lukewarm reception. They sure look cool, but underneath they really want it - to be living the look. Their ambition and ability have arrived, but they are still waiting on originality. The Strokes can get away with releasing the same song over and over because they're a bunch of pretty ‘it’ boys, but that isn’t going to help The Cloud Room. And so, what a contrast in We Are Scientists. The singer and guitarist looks like a drama student emo fan and the bass player looks as if he’s on the lam from his real job, de-bugging machine code in a windowless cubicle somewhere in Silicon Valley. And straight away they’re off like a banger, with a sound that shares many of the same roots as The Cloud Room, but with a totally different aesthetic. They really lean into the material with a sense of glee and excitement. The choruses and breakouts picking up pace and volume as emo-boy runs around, waving his guitar while bass man grins his way through his backing vocals. It’s a New York thing again, but one with a lot more nerdy passion; one that likes jalapeños in its deli melt and listens to Fugazi when it cleans the loft apartment. And they’re not cool; they have a great line in nervous but hilariously self-deprecating stage banter that endears them to the entire room. There are loads of different influences mashed up into their busy, brisk set and the fun they're having really comes across in the music. They are enjoying themselves immensely as are most of the audience. So, we see demonstrated to us the curious algebra of kudos; by not trying to be cool, We Are Scientists ended up being very cool indeed.