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Working Men's Club let the dark in on gripping second album Fear Fear

"Fear Fear"

Release date: 15 July 2022
8/10
Wmc fear fear art
22 July 2022, 15:55 Written by Chris Todd
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When Working Men’s Club dropped their self-titled debut in 2020, all traces of their indie band past were removed as the bands driving force Syd Minsky-Sergeant embraced the sound of techno, synthpop and electro.

The result was a snotty collection of dancefloor focussed pounders, odes to John Cooper Clark and a gloriously bitchy takedown of the ridiculous Andrew Neil; “You look like a c*nt, and bark like a bitch”, is a simple, but oh so effective line.

Last year’s electrifying standalone single "X" was a strong indication of what was to come on this second album, Fear Fear. The deceptively pop driven heart remained, but languished under pounding synthesized beats and harsh synth chords which channelled early '80s Gary Numan, with pre-Dare era Human League.

Minsky-Sergeant, a refreshingly precocious talent, has ramped up the intensity of the debut, and despite moments of poppiness, he’s removed the singable choruses to come up with something much more freeform. A lyricist who gives little away despite small glimpses inwards – “When we talk of the times, we talk in the past tense” on "Ploys", or “Now I fuck inside my head but not outside” on fizzing single "Widow" – his lyrical technique is similar to the cut and paste vocal samples used on house or techno music to add texture. "Heart Attack" for example uses the repetition of dance music and mimics that with spoken word, repeating the line “There's a woman dressed in black / She's a killer she's a heart attack'' over and over, or even less committal, “Rah rah-rah, Ha ha-ha, Run run-run with your pistol guns” on the title track. Fans of electronic music won’t have issue with this approach, but those after a repeat of the instant gratification of the debut may need to work a little.

A melancholic intensity runs heavy through the album. The desolate sound of "Circumference" is the sound of synthpop circa 1981, "Rapture" is almost overbearing in its intensity breaks from tribal drums to electronic scuzz and punky guitar slashes, while "Money is Mine" is an agitated Prince gone LCD Soundsystem workout – a chorus of “Endless depression / it's time / suicide is yours when the money is mine” increasing the weirdness factor nicely.

When Fear Fear lets a little light in it yields the best results. "Ploys" comes from the same disco haven Hot Chip reside in, while with the liquid basslines and housey synth stabs of "Heart Attack" comes the sound of early '80s Factory Records updated. The hooky warmth of "Cut" with analogue synths and insistent kosmiche percussio is the sound of mid-70s German rock, with one of those simple and angry scratchy guitar riffs Bernard Sumner used to lay on New Order album tracks; exhilarating and brilliant.

Their ability to drop a pop banger has been proven already – they can do it – but they just find reimagining what Cybotron would sound like as a future-punk band, and that exploration in sound proves to be a gripping listen here.

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