Workers - Workers
Record Label: Bleeding Death Records
Release Date: February 9, 2009
Bono may have a God complex, but Jeremy Johnson should have a Bono complex. Actually, the rest of his band (all two of them) should feel great about themselves, because their grasp for what can and should fill the room goes beyond making one guitar sound like three. It's what makes Workers a huge and fine rock alternative beast. Instantly obvious with album opener, "Revolutions", Louisville, KY's Workers make brassy arena-able rock with a frontman that sounds just as huge as the instruments that sound behind him. Johnsonís handsome wailing compliments the whammy riffage of tracks like "Invitation", but that's only one faucet.
Up until track four, titled "Trinidad & Tobago", it's easy to (affectionately) throw Workers into to same category as bands like U2, Keane and Coldplay, but a My Bloody Valentine reference? Seems a little left field, huh? Not that the crossover is far-fetched - shoegaze (the band compares themselves to The Jesus and Mary Chain) and arena rock both make big ass music - but to see a band (and a relatively unknown one at that) do such with such ease, conviction and personality is just comfy. Granted, "Trinidad & Tobago" (or other droners "Funeral" and "Circulation") is less illustrated than anything on Isn't Anything, but the fuzzy atmosphere of feedback and distortion is at the forefront. Even more exciting is "Human Resources", a strutting indie-popish number with a chorus-hook combo that's bouncy and memorable, and yet it's still Workers.
The few tracks that don't capture the band's agility for flexing, pulling from and drawing close big-rock genres aren't blemishes, but they mess with the flow that's been flowing so well. Steam is lost with hesitating hipster joint "French Figure 8" and then follower, "Funeral". No matter - the album's partly acoustic slow track "A Heartbeat" is a break in tempo that refocuses Workers' shtick. When stripped down to just a (literal) heartbeat and honeyed coos, the song is simple and captivating. What does pimple pock the album's stately vibe are the lyrics, which are - at best - too basic and meaningless when sitting pretty next to their sonic parents. Thankfully, all that distortion drowns out the boring lines that rhyme too much until later listens, but this compromises the album's lasting value.
This isn't a new band. Formerly known as Your Black Star, Workers is the rejuvenated version of the same group. Three previous releases - starting from a split EP in 2004 - to make up their disco, and it takes a name change to get an inspired Workers. The difference between what happened then and what we hear now is almost right. Workers has the fluidity of effects, Johnson's Bono firmness and silken production coming together as a whole. Almost there.