Working Flakes are a three-piece indie/alternative rock band based in New York. The band consists of Chris Agar (vocals, guitars and upright bass), Collin Stanley (guitar) and Zach Simao (drums, tambourine). They had all been involved in various music projects but originally came together as members of the group DDWhite. Eventually, Working Flakes were formed from this nucleus. This EP, Work Together, is their first release and was collaboratively composed and engineered by the band as part of their DIY ethic and approach.
The EP consists of five tracks and starts out with the powerful call to arms of Ease Your Mind. Set to a taut 2/4 groove, it brings to mind Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall but with the more ragged, garage rock vibe of The White Stripes. Chris Agar’s distinctive, idiosyncratic vocals are augmented in various places with Arctic Monkeys-style falsetto vocals an octave higher, to good effect.
The lyrics are essentially a clarion call for people to wake up, and where we find the EP’s title: “We must work together, we have all the power, do not fear the haves, it’s the have-nots hour…”. Though this was released in the fall of 2019, the message seems more apposite than ever, especially in light of the American riots against injustice taking place at the time of writing.
Second track Cheap Love is sonically more in keeping with the gritty, glam rock style of The Black Keys, propelled by a memorable bassline and infectious vocal melody. The music fits the subject matter like a glove which comes across as a slightly sardonic depiction of the shallow nature of modern dating: “Tuesday night, swiping right and we match….”. As with every track, the arrangement is well structured with succinct guitar melodies alternating with crunchy chords. There’s also some great tumbling tom tom fills from Zack Simao.
The final anthemic refrain, “You’re a cheap love, not a deep love…” is a pithy summation of Tinder culture which has become the societal norm. A fun, super catchy and dryly humorous piece of ‘rough round the edges’ rock ‘n roll.
Are We Connected?, the third track, is a more serious and contemplative dissection of relationships in this era of technology that has made us more connected in one way yet has isolated us from each other in another sense. The song questions whether this has been beneficial or created an artificial existence lacking in genuine interaction: “Staring at your screen, what does it mean?”.The song’s main refrain hits the nail on the head, “Views are injected, no one respected, are we connected or are we infected?”
Musically, it’s set to a loping, funky groove with a slick guitar riff. Agar sings in a lower register than previously, with all kinds of instrumental nuances and details that help to keep the music compelling throughout. The band have an excellent understanding of dynamics and can veer from subtle guitar effects to huge vocal refrains with consummate ease.
Fourth track Thank You is the highlight of the EP for me, personally. It’s a perfect marriage between Gang Of Four-style driving basslines and razor sharp guitars with the laid back, languid cool of The Strokes. The groove has a Stones-esque confident strut though lyrically it’s a little more opaque and difficult to decipher than the previous songs. Lines like these suggest the supposed gratitude of the title hook is meant sarcastically: “Disengaged with fits of rage you explode, drowning together feels like I’m drowning alone…”.
Final song Roll With The Punches consists of just vocals and acoustic guitar (with a little bowed upright bass)and displays more openly the dry sense of humour which has been present under the surface throughout.
From the lyrics to the first verse it soon becomes apparent that this was written with tongue firmly in cheek: “Stabbed in the heart tossed in the gutter, got better treatment from my former mugger who left me stranded picked up by a trucker, she couldn’t have known I was born to suffer.” It’s a light hearted and rather catchy song that rounds off the EP in a highly entertaining fashion, especially the dialogue at the end of the track.
Overall, this is an excellent debut release from a band who’ve emerged with a perfectly honed musical approach, combining a punk rock rawness and spirit with inventiveness and nuance. Similarly, the lyrics balance the serious with the humourous and the result is a very enjoyable set of songs that stand up to repeated listening. I look forward to hearing their debut album.
VERDICT = 9 out of 10