[sic] Magazine

The Workhouse – Now I Am On Fire

Famously described by the NME as “the new priests of the cathedral of sound”, I suspect that some readers will wonder why they’ve failed to pick up on The Workhouse sooner. The sound has progressed somewhat over the years from that on their 2004 debut album, ‘The End Of The Pier’. Tracks from that album such as ‘John Noakes’, ‘Peacon’ and ‘Ice Cream Van’ saw fans of The Chameleons, Interpol and Editors racing off to the record store to purchase a copy.

There’s still a underlying rawness and tension to the music on ‘Now I Am On Fire’. Both ‘A Moment Of Clarity’ and ‘Menace’, for instance, contain all the ingredients of a Martin Hannett-produced Joy Division track from ‘Unknown Pleasures’. In a marked change of direction from much of The Workhouse’s earlier work, however, the majority of the tracks on ‘Now I Am On Fire’ now also contain vocals. In many ways, the artwork mirrors the music – with its handmade booklet pages littered with black & white photographs of rusty, disheveled train carriages (in the special edition).

‘Promised Me Horses’ is an early highlight. It’s not what I was expecting at all – and certainly a marked upbeat from the Workhouse of old. It’s not typical Workhouse material, and that’s a good thing, because I suspect that once you think you know what a band is about, they immediately become typecast or pigeonholed. This track allows them to break away from the chains of expectation.

‘Adventures In Winter’ is a gorgeous track which underlines all of the things which first turned me onto The Workhouse years ago. It’s their ability to take an idea, build on it and propel it forwards to see how far they can go with it. I can’t imagine anybody not liking it. The guitars are tremendous, shimmering, vital.

‘The Sky Still Looks The Same’ builds a wall of guitars which once again sounds divine. We finish on another instrumental, entitled ‘Blankets’ which contains an immediacy and possesses just enough drive before it decays away, slowly.

In summary, The Workhouse have delivered.

Album at Bandcamp

The Sky Still Looks The Same; EP