[sic] Magazine

The Workhouse – The Sky Still Looks The Same EP

With their biography referencing The Chameleons and Joy Division, The Workhouse reel me in all too easily. Adding claims of shoegazing and post-rock (Sigur Ros) up the ante further. Who could live up to such boasts? Not The Workhouse. Not yet, obviously not yet. But a band has to start somewhere. Just like that feted, aforementioned trio.

The Sky Still Looks The Same is the Oxford/London band’s second release but first for fledgling German label, Oscarson. Familiar post-punk tropes pop up everywhere, descending basslines à la ‘Disorder’ (‘F.N.O.’) , shimmering, Robert Smith guitars (‘Now I am On Fire’) and echoey vocals à la everyone who ever wanted to be Ian Curtis. I’m not getting the Sigur Ros thing though. No wait, was that the ping of a glockenspiel? (Ticks box).

Come and play ‘Press Release Bingo’ with The Workhouse

But it doesn’t really matter because the record is rather nice. The Workhouse’s problem is that there have been such a glut of post-punk revival bands since Interpol. The better ones have had a brilliant front man to nuance their songs, Banks, Smith etc. The Workhouse sound more like one of the (many) mainland European groups trying to get in on the act; Cut City, Customs, Mary Onettes, Kim Novak… you name your pick and I’ll give you another ten, all decent, honest acts with their hearts in the right place. I can see the appeal. The danger for The Workhouse is that homogeneity can lead to anonymity.

I don’t wish for that. There are moments on this EP when The Workhouse appear to be onto something. ‘Western skies’ is better than the lead track for me and ‘Seven stars’ kinda dips its toe into Jeniferever territory (YES, go there Workhouse, go there) And it is early days. Let’s give them time to breathe before we consume them.

Final word – the product itself is a thing of beauty.. This is a 10” vinyl with handmade sleeve; You get a mini-CD inside and the artwork reminds me of early OMD (on Dindisc) Well played Oscarson; Thats an extra mark (Yes I am serious. Vinyl lovers will know and understand).