Working For A Nuclear Free City: s/t

After listening to Working For A Nuclear Free City's eponymous album, one word more than any other springs to mind: eclectic—not a bad thing necessarily but here the stylistic range makes it's difficult to get a clear sense of the quartet's identity. In itself, that's not unusual, as many groups pack all of their influences into their debuts before establishing a more unique sound the next time around.

Having said that, certain band characteristics do emerge. Originating from Cheshire, the group's (brothers Phil and Jon Kay, Gary McLure, vocalist Ed Hulme) psychedelicized, free-spirited sound often recalls the panoramic post-rock of Caribou (the trippy “Forever” breezily heads out across the open plains but recalls the Caribou sound so vividly, Dan Snaith could sue for copyright). Similarly, the vocals are delivered in the ethereal, David Gilmour style (“ Quiet Place ”) that Snaith deployed on Up In Flames and The Milk of Human Kindness. The music's ecstatic thrust derives from its prominently placed bass lines, and Working For A Nuclear Free City's travelogue takes the listener through sparkling ambient interludes (“Pixelated Birds,” “England”), raucous industrial groovers (“Troubled Son”), bedroom acoustic moments (“Home”), hazy shoegaze (“Fallout”), and funky post-rock (“Dead Fingers Talking”).

There are many special moments: “The 224 th Day” presents a gorgeous overture of crackling starbursts and entrancingly lush tones, “Quiet Place” is so dreamy it could single-handedly rehabilitate ‘prog rock,' and “The Tree” closes the album with a beautiful meditation of rustic string drones. At times, a single song morphs from one style into something completely different: the group initiates “Innocence” with a credible Headhunters impression before pushing the song into a raving guitar zone. Working For A Nuclear Free City is obviously accomplished, no matter its extreme eclecticism.

September 2006