Album Review: Working Men’s Club – Working Men’s Club

Working Mens Club 1

Sometimes, home just isn’t where the heart is.

Sydney Minsky-Sargeant lives in Todmorden, a market town which lies at the foot of the Pennines and, due to a peculiar quirk of geography, has a more precipitous microclimate and tendency for darker skies.

Things aren’t all bad: it’s also the home of the co-operative run Golden Lion which, along with the Trades Club in nearby Hebden Bridge, has built a reputation for shows featuring acts who otherwise might have been drawn to nearby Manchester or Leeds.

This doesn’t stop the opening song of his band’s eponymously titled debut album being about the effect of living in such a cultural wasteland though; on Valleys he snarks, ‘Trapped inside a town/Inside a mind/stuck with no ideas/I’m running out of time’, but the kicker is that all this bitterness is framed by big house phrases and an abrasive, Hooky-in-New-Order bassline, almost exactly the opposite of the sound you’d expect to be emanating from the local dark Satanic mill.

Then again, defying convention has been this band’s way of doing shit from the start: 2019 saw two of the original members depart, to be replaced with Marieed O’Connor (formerly Moonlandingz), Rob Graham (formerly Drenge) and Liam Graham, whilst the music has morphed from its early guitar orientation into something that more closely resembles Factory Floor, or LCD Soundsystem if James Murphy had grown up manning a fruit and veg stall by day and going to the Hacienda every week. Add in producer Ross Orton (Fat White Family, Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A), and Working Men’s Club 2.0 are a vicious, raving, ecstatic brew. Syd’s objective is, he’s claimed, to, ‘Make people happy, then f**k them up again’.

At times, they’re just bloody lovely, the glistery Madchester frescoes of Outside and Tomorrow for all the world sounding like the sort of pilled up escapism teenage hostages sometimes plump for, while the Berliner techno muscle of A.A.A.A. shifts to nihilism, distorted vocals and grinding low end sounding like the thoughts you might have inside your head if the surroundings didn’t have it in a vice.

There’s also a deadly, playful air of provocation: Cook A Coffee is aimed squarely at the UK’s brillo haired, establishment shill Andrew Neil, while the wickedly abrasive Teeth carries the line, ‘Everything‘s a myth / don’t know what to believe’, acknowledging that there’s nothing and no-one deserving of trust whether you come from town or city.

The climax takes the simplest way out of this need to wear the world on your shoulders but not be made to deal with its flaws one by one: Angel rolls on for over twelve minutes, reaching successively greater, shoegazey peaks, corkscrewing towards nowhere like a psychedelically guided rite of passage.

So, what happens when the part of you that’s in the air you’ve breathed chokes, when the pavements and bus stops and parties and educators and law enforcers are tripping or smothering you into just a nothingness?

Simple, you form a band called Working Men’s Club and you rip the whole thing to shreds, brilliantly.


Andy Peterson

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