We Are Scientists—the duo of vocalist/guitarist Keith Murray and bassist/vocalist Chris Cain—are known for the oblique humor and intelligence that they bring to their music, but a question about their sharp mental acuity produces gales of laughter. “I don’t believe brains or wit are particularly helpful, or necessary, in pop music,” Murray says, still chuckling. “If we intended our appeal to be narrow and excessively insular, those qualities might be good for us, but nobody likes a smartass.” Despite this protestation, the songs on the band’s new LP, TV En Français (Dine Alone), are brimming over with wry humor and skewed insights into the state of modern romance. TV En Français was recorded with the help of producer Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On The Radio), who helped give the album a polished, expansive sound. Cain will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on the band.
Cain: Sex has grown really popular, especially in the last few decades, and a lot of that’s to do, or so we’re told, with birth control. Contraception has become easy to use, reliable and cheap. It sometimes fails, of course, and occasionally, in an amorous frenzy, people don’t bother using it at all. But the general feeling is that if two people want to have sex with each other, fear of inadvertently becoming parents shouldn’t stop them.
But is it really our confidence in human ingenuity (in the shape of birth control) that makes us feel safe? Or is it something less admirable—namely, a willingness to ignore the future if the short-term benefit is tasty enough? Consider the Virginian Opossum: in as few as eight days after sex, the Virginian Opossum has a baby. Or the Fruit Fly: Fruit Fly eggs hatch 24 hours after they’re fertilized!
Now let’s do a thought experiment. If babies were born 24 hours after conception, would you ever have sex again? No! Fucking! Way! (Unless you wanted a baby, of course.) No matter how delightful sex is, if you knew that a mistake or bad luck would result in a screaming, crying baby (or hell, a smiling, laughing baby) the next day—you would never have sex again. The specter of the baby would haunt the entire miserable undertaking. Impotence would be rampant; everyone would be on edge. Condoms would be worn in triplicate—and still floating above the bed, the awful blue-eyed baby specter.
Yes, birth control has helped out a bit with recreational sex. But the real hero, let’s face it, is humans’ awesome nine-month gestation period. “Nine-month gestation period” … it even sounds hot.