A combination of baritone vocals and guitars on the knife edge of hope and despair have been the hallmarks of The Workhouse’s output so far. Their music has led the NME to hail them as “the new priests in cathedrals of sound” and they do have an uncanny knack of channelling the influences of so many great bands, yet retaining a distinctive and recognisable sound. ‘The Sky Still Looks The Same’ is their first release for the new German label, Oscarson.
A mixture of skyscraping and staccato guitars signify The Workhouse’s early aggression for the opening title track. It’s a shot across the bows which features the band at their bold and dramatic best. Bands very rarely deserve genuine comparisons with Joy Division but the thrilling bass and drum alliance underscoring the second track, ‘F.N.O.’, will convince some that they have uncovered a new Peter Hook versus Stephen Morris duel. Similarly, thanks to a strident melodic bassline driving the song forward, ‘Western Skies’ is more reminiscent of New Order and its lyrics of “And it seems like nothing’s changed. Everything just seems the same old way” certainly conjure up their simplistic but always effective way with words. Meanwhile, ‘Now I Am On Fire’ tones down the intensity and moves into slowcore territory but there’s always a refreshing sense of elegance and dignity in The Workhouse’s kind of despair leaving ‘Seven Stars’ to end the EP on an impressive crescendo of chiming post-rock.
It’s slightly disappointing that after all this time, a solitary EP is the only result from the band since 2011’s ‘The Coldroom Sessions’ but given the quality on offer here, no one should feel short-changed. The sky still looks the same according to the band but more importantly the music is as excellent as it has ever been.
Kitchens Of Distinction, Redjetson, Raymond Scott Woolson, Joy Division, Abandon, The Chameleons