Working Men’s Club ditch the trappings and cliches of alt rock, instead experimenting in synth-laden post-punk vibes on their debut album. Encompassing the soul of everything that makes Sheffield’s historical legacy as a synth-driven city of electronic music, Working Men’s Club feeds into the corpus of vibrant pop.
The self-titled debut mixes together raw and gloomy with floor filling dance beats. Dark ambient sounds, leaning heavily on the New Order-esqe thumping basslines, are paired with industrial sounds and drumbeats. “A.A.A.A.” is rumbling and glitchy while “John Cooper-Clarke” is a gritty song, packed with electronic hooks, named after Salford’s famous punk-poet. “White Rooms and People” is a power-pop standout on the record, wearing the influence of 70s new wave on its sleeve. “Outside” too, with its light and trippy synth-rock vibe breaks up disco gloom which occupies parts of the record.
Since arriving on the music scene in 2018, the evolution of Working Men’s Club both musically and as a band has been far from smooth.
Frontman Sydney Minsky-Sargeant is the remaining the only original member of the band. Joined by Mairead O’Connor (The Moonlandingz) and Rob Graham (Drenge, Baba Naga, Wet Nuns) as well as Liam Ogburn, after founding members Jake Bogacki and Giulia Bonometti’s departure. Now refreshed with a refined sonic direction, having come a long way since the debut single ‘Bad Blood,’ the band teamed up with esteemed Sheffield producer Ross Orton for the album.
A witty, somewhat stream of consciousness runs through Minsky-Sargeant’s lyrics, attacking the frustration of growing up in a far-out town. “Valleys” forlornly drones; ‘Trapped inside a town/ Inside my mind/ Stuck with no ideas/ I’m running out of time/ There’s no quick escape’, such feelings exemplified on track “Be My Guest” bellowing ‘let me in or let me out/ let me scream out now’.
Working Men’s Club doesn’t just mope about the personal and the mundane, they also tap into the political disillusionment running through the country. Snarky “Cook a Coffee” takes a swipe at BBC/Spectator man Andrew Neil, ‘Tune into the BBC and watch me… defecate’, so gently put. “Teeth” sounds like a haunted disco banger, hawking at modern discontent and general mistrust, ‘Everything’s a myth/ Tell me what to believe’ echoes through the excellent stereo mixing.
Finally, “Angel” closes out the album with a 12-minute experimental trip, mixing all the albums influences into one coalescing groove.
The broody post-punk inspired direction Working Men’s Club have taken for their debut isn’t surprising. Minsky-Sargeant has always voiced his lack of enthusiasm for bland and safe sounding indie-rock, telling NME in 2019: “The reason there aren’t as many popular guitar bands right now is because they keep reproducing the same shit.”
Instead of becoming one of the many modern UK guitar bands, adding an undercurrent of electronica through the album helps the band stand out amongst their contemporaries, giving them a strong starting point to take the underground by proverbial storm.