Manchester based Working for a Nuclear Free City return from a five year silence with What Do People Do All Day, a fourteen track barrage of experimental indie pop tracks and nu-gaze musings that more often than not sound like watered down yet mature versions of 1975 tracks. Although the vocal heavy offerings fail to pique my interest, there are some redeeming instrumental offerings on this LP that more than make up for its shortcomings.
Throughout this album the production, in the hands of founding member Phil Kay, is interesting although at times cliché. Now and then this can make the songs sound overly filtered in order to fit the mildly experimental twist unnecessarily heaped onto otherwise straightforward alt-pop songs. Songs like opener Bottle Rocket and Going Nowhere rely heavily on shoe-gaze style ‘washing’ of the sound to set them apart from their conventional nature, adding a manufactured element to the sound that seems superficial at points.
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Cassetteboys Theme, New Day and Leaving are the highlights of the album. These three instrumental tracks contain the albums most original and self-contained production. Cassetteboys Theme, is a simple reverby song, with a subtle minimalist sound. New Day features rolling synth elements over an old-school hip hop beat, however the artificial tone of the drums adds an interesting edge to the track as the layers converge to form a welcome break from the rest of the albums faux dream-pop stylings.
Album closer Leaving is another example of the bands instrumental prowess. The earthy, booming bass intro sets the track up for a welcome downbeat and dark tonal shift, however as this subsides ethereal and light synth builds to create a swelling and light orchestral piece, moving the bands shoegaze style into cleaner, more polished territory. The track culminates in gritty, synthesised warp sound effects, before looping out to finish the album. The delicate chaos of the song creates a perfect closing track for an album that doesn’t quite know what it wants to sound like.
Certain elements such as the influence of various styles of instrumental music on certain tracks, particularly ambient and noise on Leaving and the fact that every song on the album sounds different is also appealing. All in, this album is a solid offering from Working for a Nuclear Free City.