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The Wheel Workers – “Citizens” Review

Anthems for the working man
The Wheel Workers
The Wheel Workers

It’s funny where a quirky hook and a quirky music video will get you. For quintet The Wheel Workers, their track “Yodel” brought me into their world for their third album but behind the initially silly premises there’s a solid album that deserves people’s attention.

“Yodel” opens the album “Citizens” with the vocal yodel being chanted like a football match for the snappy and quick chorus. The rock band themselves are careful to not overuse it though and have strong guitar and draw organs bashing out riffs a plenty. The result is a frenzied energetic piece that straddles the line between gimmick and good catchy with perfection. “Burglar” shows the bands penchant for some sparkle and pizazz as the synth pop and bubblegum backing vocals compliment the rough, gritty and rocky percussion and processed vocals rock out. I like the idea of a burglar of not possessions but of feelings and thoughts as the lyrics lament on what is clearly a toxic friendship. “Whole Other World” is about a symphonic as the band get with a whimsy yet theatrical jazz infused rock piece. It’s outro is very memorable as the keyboards stab synth strings around the smashing of drums and guitar chugs. The vocals have a light and slow motion quality to them and so the song itself feels a bit spacious and floaty. It’s a nice change-up from what is quite a busy and tight album.

“Smokescreen” is the longest track and possibly my favourite on the album. The riffing and interplay between all the instruments and production really works perfectly. It’s got a fluid wave-like flow to it that is emphasised further as various instruments are turned up and down and twisted through various noise distortion effects. The lyrics themselves speak of justifying opinions with snippets of truth and looking at things from other peoples point of view and I really love how they sing that and change the perception of each instrument by tweaking its frequency. It’s also got a mega guitar/keyboard mid section.

“Wage Slaves” continues the up-the-big-guys theme that runs throughout with a chirpy 70’s throwback track. The vocalists are all singing angelically and like a psychedelia band and when paired with a squidgy bassline and heavy guitars for the chorus, it feels like an uprising in waiting – unleashed in the frenzied last 30 seconds as everyone goes nuts. “Run Away” plays with misaligned the guitar timing with the rest of the instruments and it creates an unusual row-boat styled rhythm. The track itself is catchy and brooding in many ways before leaping into the more straight forward “Dreams” which reminds me of a happier Muse. The interplay of backing vocals, keyboards and the simple 4/4 of guitars and drums makes for a track that constantly strives forward. Throughout the album the production is fantastic and varied and here it’s no exception as the track is so busy, yet never muddy or overdone. The closer is “Citizen Incorporated” keeps the energy to the max with a hi octane anthem that is bass heavy and the most raucous the band becomes. The keyboards sound like 16 bit ditties, the vocals are screaming for more and the drums feel amped up like an early Stone Temple Pilot album. It’s a fitting finale that leaves you pumped up enough to punch your boss!

It’ their third album and although I’ve yet to pick up their previous work, this certainly makes me want to. It’s a crowd pleasing mixture of classic rock and future sounds and synths wrapped up in activist angst and frustration for the working man. Join the Citizen revolution.

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