WORKING MEN’S CLUB – ” Working Men’s Club “

Posted: December 19, 2020 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
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“We just want to confuse the fuck out of people, in a good way,” said Working Men’s Club frontman Sydney Minsky-Sargeant. Mission accomplished. The band’s self-titled debut draws from a large swath of danceable ’79-’83 post punk and second-gen ’00s groups, with great songs, infectious beat-heavy production and a clear love for The Fall.

It’s old music for young people and young music for old people. It’s the sound of teenage possibilities current or remembered. we’re discovering house music in New York with New Order, riding the night train in Germany looking for Kraftwerk with Simple Minds, out of our minds and sticking to the floors of the Hacienda. our tour guide is Sydney Minsky-Sargeant who reacquaints us with what has been before whilst giving us something tangibly modern by navigating an untrodden route through those familiar places. This Yorkshire indie-guitar turned synth-techno band stormed into our lives in early 2019 with the razor-sharp post-punk of their debut ‘Bad Blood’ (released via Melodic Records) – kicking off our obsession with their output, it turned out not to be a blueprint for the direction the ensuing album would take however, for when they emerged a year later with the irrepressible propulsion of ‘Teeth,’ it felt like we were dealing with quite a different band. But it transpires that we pretty much were, as Syd was the only remaining member of the original set up. With a band of new recruits consisting of Drenge’s Rob Graham and Moonlandingz’s Mairead O’Connor (whose influence feels like it permeates ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Cook a Coffee’) – Syd drew further on his dance influences (Justin Robertson, 808 state, Jeff Mills and Soulwax) to pursue more heuristic grooves. . acid house, rave culture, Detroit techno, Italian sleazy house. “it’s almost like the difference between ’81 New Order and ’89 New Order , but achieved in the space of a year” – the line of best fit.

Although a majority of the album is a riot of hard electronic beats, everything is cut through with an industrial, post-punk grit that keeps this firmly rooted in sweaty northern basement clubs and not on shiny, well-lit dancefloors – a collision of euphoric rave and stomping claustrophobia. how is it possible that someone so young can have such an affinity for – and  knowledge of – the entire 80s indie dance scene?.

Savage and stylish, I absolutely love the hedonistic rush of rising dark synth-pop stars Working Men’s Club. Choosing to play along to a drum machine can be a wee bit stifling during most live performances, but for Working Men’s Club it ensures their sets remain tightly wound which retains their razor-sharp edge on stage.

Finding a home on the iconic label Heavenly Recordings, the West Yorkshire band have already released “Bad Blood” that has that killer bass line and the truly infectious “Teeth” which is most definitely my single of the year. they exhibit a level of cynicism and alienation only possessed by the young but here it’s channelled into a music that sticks two fingers up at any musical age discrimination: old acid-head ravers stand up! industrial goths indulge! nostalgic grown-up indie kids get yer converse on.

It’s an album of contradictions and juxtapositions. despite the influences spanning decades and genres, it smartly coalesces into a fluent and vitally modern whole, whilst simultaneously retaining the sense of this being a mixtape you’re listening to in your best mate’s bedroom in the early 90s; the lyrics predominantly focus on fatalism, imprisonment and despair whilst the music is imbued with hope, freedom and redemption; it’s music for the elation of the dance floor that works equally as well as a headphones listen slumped in your armchair; it’s full of fervour and vivacity but delivered with a piercing, icy stare and a tone of ennui. it’s this friction, this tension, this opposition, that makes this album so compelling.

like Fat White Family partying with the Happy Mondays and then hooking up with Suicide for an after party at Gary Numan’s pad, this is a cross-generational, cross-genre masterpiece that reverberates with the enthusiasm of a house party but resonates with the maturity of a dinner party. it’s odd that a record which evokes club culture, energy and togetherness doesn’t make you miss what you can’t have, but instead celebrates what you can. The whole Working Men’s Club aesthetic is steeped in 90s rave culture – the acid house smiley, the flouro colours, their iconic dancing kanji logo – it’s the return to freer times we’re all craving so much right now. their frenetic energy brings a much-needed adrenalin shot to the tail end of a year that damn well needs it.

We are hearing reports they’ll be sticking with Jeff Barrett for the release of their debut album early next year and I need a copy now.

“[a] potent set of bruising electro songs like a cool composite of stephen mallinder and mark e smith” – uncut.

“packed with gurgling, yelping energy” – the line of best fit

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