Album Review: Work (Work Work) – HTRK
After bassist and founding member Sean Stewart died last year it would have been so easy and completely understandable for the remaining two members of HTRK (pronounced Hate Rock) to call it a day. Or at the very least take a prolonged break but as the album title suggests Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang focused their energy and grief into their work. The result is a sophomore album that plays out like a lo fi, electronic heart with a slashed artery. Bleeding out all of its fears and anguish leaving it both vulnerable and beautifully raw.
By no means the easiest of listens due to its emotional intensity and the slow burning nature of its instrumental DNA, what this album lacks in jolly sing a longs it more than makes up for in depth. Although the digital drum patterns here are crisp and strong they serve mainly as backdrop for Works true master strokes. The hushed and often eerie vocals dripping in reverb, the spacious undertones, fuzzy guitar work and abyss like synths make for one of the most effective and atmospheric albums this year. The slow pacing of the album may be a problem for some but to me it moves at just the right tempo. Never rushed, never forced HTRK do what they want when they want. Their control of the album not only adds to its clinical, eerie atmosphere but shows an almost erotic and dominant side to the duos craft. Its intimate invitation to the dark side is very very tempting and once you accept and revisit this album, it opens itself even more to you. There is so much to absorb and if you allow yourself to be susceptible to its ways, it will have you brooding and mulling over it for days. Dark and exotic is just one side to the album, the other is the inevitable heartbreak poured into its creation. When this record goes for sombre it pulls it off with such precision and effect. “Synthetik” for me is one of the most soul destroying songs I’ve heard in some time yet its so infectious.
If your looking for upbeat electronic grooves or you like your sounds light and breezy then Work really isnt for you but if your looking for something emotionally cutting, something deep or something to mentally immerse yourself in then this could be exactly what your looking for. Much more than a good sophomore LP, hell its much more than a good stand alone LP HTRK’s second offering is an album of intelligence, intensity and integrity.