It’s been five years since ‘Flyover’, the second album from The Workhouse. However, there is a sad subtext to the release of the third album by the Oxford-formed post-rock/dreampop exponents in that Rich Haines – who produced the first two albums – passed away before he was to due to lend his talents to ‘The Coldroom Sessions’.
If The Workhouse were wanting to expand their fanbase the angry drone of ‘Fading Fast’ may not be the best way to achieve that aim. Nevertheless, a picture of attractively bleak drama is painted by the track’s searing guitar lines and intense percussion. Familiar territory is rediscovered for the chiming ‘Stalker’ and by the time we hear ‘Drag Queen’, we know the group truly are back in business. Here the skill is evoking a beautiful but sad image of an end of the pier act who perhaps always had the talent but has now stumbled on hard times. That’s quite an achievement for an instrumental track.
The underrated song-based material is also demonstrated well here. The relatively chipper ‘The Whistler’ is followed by the considerably doomier ‘Seen Sometimes’. Then to end with there is ‘Rock And Roll’; a controlled storm of a song imbued with the kind of nostalgic longing The Workhouse perform so well. All are voiced by Chris Taylor, whose post-punk croon is always captivating.
The best instrumental music can tell a story and make one feel emotion and ‘The Coldroom Sessions’ delivers a piece of romantic tragedy. So ultimately this is a more than welcome return for The Workhouse; its air of sadness made all the more poignant by Haines’ passing.
Raymond Scott Woolson, Kitchens Of Distinction, Redjetson