HTRK HTRKWork (Work, Work)
The story of “Work (Work, Work)”, the second album by Australians HTRK, is a turbulent and fascinating one. A major role in the motivation behind its idiosyncrasies is the suicide of bassist Sean Stewart last year. The band have never officially said anything about it or about how the tragedy affected their sound, which has changed compared to its predecessor. It's as if Stewart's tragic passing had made HTRK a different band. A band which, in a way, still has a connection to the band they were before the event, but have a different look on their faces. A lost look, absent and elusive, ghostly, contaminating and decaying the music on the inside.
They still play singer-songwriter pop with a strong tendency towards darkness, background noise, powerful bass lines and the melancholic vocals of Jonnine Standish. But now the tempo is even slower and there's an uneasy, mournful mood on each and every song. Furthermore, they're using a lot more electronica, which may be the biggest difference with regards to “Marry Me Tonight”; which sounded more orthodox and conventional. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that witch house and dubstep - especially it’s more emotional and organic branch - have had a decisive influence on the composition and materialisation of “Work (Work, Work)”. Above all in the way they weave almost hip-hop-like beats into web of ethereal and somewhat sinister eighties pop; which makes for a mysterious mix of Cocteau Twins, Salem, Portishead, Fever Ray, Suicide and the Tri Angle label catalogue.
Claustrophobic, tense and scary - like a dark sky on the verge of unleashing all of its fury - “Work (Work, Work)” is a praiseworthy synthesis of many varied influences from the eighties until now; in a very agitated, emotional context. The make it more difficult than ever. In a very natural and coherent way, the inaccessibility doesn't sound forced or provoked. However, the great thing about the album is exactly the trip awaiting you if you decide to enter those dark woods with the intention of getting to the end safely. There's a prize at the end of the road: in HTRK's dictionary, the word “indifference” doesn't exist.