Finally, a band has come along that encompasses my love of lush pop songs with my infatuation with the music of Madchester. Working For A Nuclear Free City has just rocketed up my list of favorite albums of 2006 with a collection of danceable guitar-based music that is just as fun as it is well crafted and intelligent. For all of those wanting to relive (or perhaps experience for the first time) the pill-popping rave rock that filled the legendary Hacienda, this album is for you.
For starters, WFANFC is actually from Manchester, so they have that Madchester sound truly running through their veins. The band's very beginnings trace back to 1999, but it was in 2004 that Phil Kay (producer, keys) and Gary Mclure (guitars) brought the band together by adding John Kay (drums) and Ed Hulme (vocals/bass). Together they make music with the pulse of the Chemical Brothers and the groove of the Stone Roses, such as on the thumping bass of "Troubled Son." What a way to kick off an album!
The dance party raves on with "Dead Fingers Walking," another big beat jam with a bass line that is very reminiscent of an upbeat song from Lemon Jelly. What impressed me about this album is the diversity of the music, as WFANFC doesn't just rely on dancehall tracks. "Quiet Place" pushes the beats aside, replacing them with beautifully layered vocals that soar through the clouds for a few stunning minutes.
Now that they have given listeners a slight breather, they rocket into "The Tape," a dark, moody track that could have easily come from an UNKLE album. Harnessing all things Spiritualized, "Over" is a spectacular tune that begins with a Jason Pierce-ish vocal performance layered over harmonica and keyboard loops. Then with only a minute left, the rock kicks in with drums blazing. It is a total Spiritualized moment, except only about 4 minutes long, something rarely done by Pierce. Another standout is "Forever," which is more about a pulse than melody as it slowly adds layer after layer of instrumentation over a steady Stereolab beat. Keyboard arpeggios, Middle Eastern flavored guitar licks and even a sitar would make you swear this came from a Talvin Singh record.
Working For A Nuclear Free City's self-titled album definitely runs the gamut in danceable music genres. The one thing they all embrace is that wonderful Madchester sound that filled the halls of the Hacienda. Now go put on your baggy pants and dance!