Acid house flourishes meet doomy disco on the debut from intoxicating Yorkshire mob Working Men's Club. Though ego clashes and personal tumult saw the band undergo extensive line-up changes, the release melds spunky, electro anarchy into perhaps the foursome's most unified work to date. Izzy Felton weighs in on the latest exposition from the burgeoning post-punk renaissance.
A dreary October morning was made electrifying by the release of Manchester-based band Working Men’s Club’s self-titled debut. Since bursting onto the scene in 2019, the fresh-faced foursome have come on leaps and bounds - bagging a record deal with Heavenly Records only seven months after the release of their first single Bad Blood. Despite only having a few songs to their name, the troupe also managed to nab Rob Graham of Drenge fame and The Moonlandingz’ Mairead O’Connor as new members after a re-shuffle in the line-up. This mix of members from differing bands and backgrounds shines through on the debut, and is quite possibly the reason Working Men’s Club have been able to polish up their unique sound.
The record opens with the heart beat drumming of Valleys - the name referring to the bouncing landscape that surrounds front man Syd Minsky-Sargeant’s hometown of Todmorden; a town enclosed within the Upper Calder Valley of West Yorkshire. The song has a steady bounciness that resembles the landscape described in Syd’s monotonous lyrics, leaving the listener with the odd feeling of being stuck in a rut. Whilst the band are the first to admit that their earlier work failed to showcase what they were really about, this fiery introduction to the debut marks the needed shift to reveal the true essence of Working Men’s Club.
The journey continues through the winding valleys of Yorkshire with an electrifying sound that leaves you questioning whether you’re living through the new wave movement of the eighties, or attending a nineties warehouse rave. Named after the punk poet king, the record's third song, John Cooper Clarke transports the listener back to the days of New Order, Blondie and Talking Heads; acting as a tribute to the alternative kids of the early 80’s that listened to the rousing new music of the time, all the while living in the small towns described in Working Men’s Club’s lyrics.
Teeth, the ninth song on the album, transports the listener yet again with the repetitive energy of pre-2000’s rave music. What truly brings the album together and provides its quintessentially Northern energy is this amalgamation of electronic synthesizers with gritty lyrics. This heavy up-country influence doesn’t just come from the band, but those that assisted in making the album, namely Arctic Monkeys producer Ross Orton. Far from the soft southern countryside, it is a record infused with the industrial landscape of the North.
“The record's feeling of movement perfectly captures the essence of being stuck in the grinding cogs of day-to-day life.”
Hopping back through the record from Teeth, Outside is another highlight due to the irony of its topic in a year where the nation has been stuck indoors (including myself when listening to the record for the first time). With its dreamy vocals that echo through the synthesisers and drum machines that so definitively make up the sound of the album, it is a truly scintillating addition. Naturally with the heavy use of electronic instruments and the influence of nineties rave music however, there is a sense of repetitiveness about the piece.
This feels distinctly purposeful though, as the records feeling of movement perfectly captures the essence of being stuck in the grinding cogs of day-to-day life. Working Men’s Club’s propulsive debut takes you on a journey through the industrial landscape of the North; winding through its bustling cities and winding valleys, it somehow manages to make the mundane of everyday life exciting. A divine showcase of a band who's music and message is set to continue to grow, the debut is only a taster of what is to come.
Written by: Izzy Felton
Edited by: Olivia Stock