Before I headed down to Cornerstone 2000, I received a couple of e‑mails from Christian Lee Wargo, the vocalist and songwriter of Scientific. In one of them, he mentioned the band was going through several changes, including a new sound, which immediately intrigued and disappointed me. Good bands are always evolving and maturing in their sound, but darn it all, I really liked Scientific’s self-titled album, with its ’80s-influenced synth noodlings, sharp guitar melodies, and dark atmospherics. I didn’t want to see them change what seemed like a great formula.
From the Nest of Idea doesn’t see Scientific going towards a new sound, but rather, more towards a reevaluation. That’s what personnel and attitude changes will do to you, I guess. While we don’t see Scientific fulfilling their dream of releasing, say, a hip-hop album, there’s something about From the Nest of Idea that certainly feels different than Scientific.
The songwriting is much more concise and to the point, which is really saying something, considering Scientific was pretty concise. The songs themselves feel more angular and direct, even with the airy synths. The synths, handled by newcomer Jane Ann Cotter Burnett, also feel more prominent, especially on “An Evening Perhaps” or “A Valued Judgment,” where they take on a cathedral-esque feel. While “You Wanted Blood” starts off sounding fairly upbeat, it soon takes a darker, more mysterious turn. By the song’s middle, the guitar and synth are ricoheting off each other as Wargo sings “Looking right into the eye of a killer/You wanted blood to fall like a river” in his detached-yet-honest vocals.
If you come to this album looking for another quick new wave fix, you might be a little disappointed. The songs do have a certain ’80s-ish sheen to them (especially “Out of Time”), but it’s much less pronounced and, dare I say, blatant. You could throw out names like New Order and The Cure, but the comparisons don’t hold as much water as they did with Scientific. A more accurate description might be Stereolab if they had an infatuation with sparse post-punk à la Joy Division rather than ’60s psychedelia and cerebral krautrock.
However, the disc clocks in at just under 18 minutes, so it’s a little hard to really get a handle on just exactly where Scientific will end up. But to be honest, the disc’s length is the only thing I can really hold against it. If their intention was to leave me anxiously waiting for more, then they certainly succeeded. From the Nest of Idea sees the band becoming leaner and meaner in light of the various changes they’ve gone through, and growing much more confident in their craft.