Album of the Month, Music, Reviews

Working Men’s Club: Working Men’s Club

(Heavenly Records)

Back to the Future and repeat…

Music has long been derivative, even so, some people insist on finding the ‘new sound’ (like Howard Moon in The Mighty Boosh). But overall, if you look at music which is popular and/or critically heralded, most of the time you will unravel echoes of the past. And turning old to new can be done very, very well, whether it be Michael Kiwanuka and his superb 21st Century soul or the Calder Valley’s Working Men’s Club who have released their long awaited debut album.

Although released in October 2020, Working Men’s Club debut could have easily been released in Ocotber 1990 or thereabouts. The band’s neon logo and cover (and vinyl) all but needing a smiley face to make it ready for the rave. From the opening 1-2 of ‘Valleys’ and ‘A.A.A.A’ you are hit with squelchey synth stabs and acid house pulses. Like a heavier, punkier version of New Order’s classic ‘Technique’ album, it sets its stall straight up, and is vastly different than the bands punk offerings of only a couple of years ago.

Next up is ‘John Cooper Clarke’ and here the rave meets post punk in title, spirit and sound. A tribute the Mancunian Poet, it is sublime and would sound terrific on the motorway driving a 1988 Peugeot 205 GTI to a field in the Pennines where you do nothing but dance and look to the skies. The lyrics are obtuse but great, ‘Mortality is given, makes you feel distraught’ and ‘We live and we die’ suggesting that if our days are numbered then we may as well do so in a blissed out state. Following this is Track 4 ‘White Rooms and People’ has been around for most of 2020, and it shimmers here, as does pesudo chill out of ‘Outside’, which ends Side A into a calm close.

Turning the record over and Side B is equally as enjoying, albeit in a more experimental, darker way, the tracks here far more obtuse musically and lyrically. Singer Sydney Minsky-Sargeant almost begs the listener to let emotions both in and out on the sinister sounding ‘Be My Guest’. Later ‘Cook a Coffee’ is a sweary electro punk track which channels The Fall and then ‘Teeth’ is full of youthful frustration.

The album then seems to be closing off, ready to wind down, but unlike the chillout of Side A, Side B closes with the epic ‘Angel’ where the musical derivatives go into absolute overdrive. It’s dancey, trancey and magnificent prog art rock at its best.Weirdly it reminds me of the more epic tracks on Primary Scream’s legendary ‘Screamadelica’, or at least the thrills that record provides still. ‘Angel’ is bold and promises a future direction of Working Men’s Club which could go literally anywhere.

Whilst not for everyone, right now, and in years to come there will be many people who grab this genre-busting and timeless record on a Friday night or a Sunday morning. Like a musical ragu it will develop and need to be paired right, but for the right taste buds will 100% satisfy. And if you want a 22 minute piece of pre-going out magic also check out the bands megamix, it’ll be a perfect warm up when we are all ready and able to head to the indie dance floor again in the future.

9/10

Key Tracks: ‘Valleys’; ‘A.A.A.A.’;’John Cooper Clarke’; ‘Be My Guest’; ‘Angel’

Love this album? For further listening here are some recommendations:

‘Incidental Music’ – WH Lung; ‘Technique’– New Order; ‘Perverted by Language’ – The Fall; ‘Screamadelica’ – Primal Scream.

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