Irish raised – London based band The Clockworks have absolutely nailed it on their long awaited debut album.
Produced by Bernard Butler (Suede, McAlmont & Butler), who also has Irish roots being London born of Irish parentage, and recorded partly at Abbey Rd, this is an album which has ‘breakthrough’ written all over it. It is certainly one of the best albums of 2023.
In ‘Endgame’ The Clockworks suggest that all too often “music with nothing to say plays on the radio”. Well, get The Clockworks across the airwaves and that will certainly not be true. It’s full of catchy hooks, lyrically savvy and, as you would expect given the pedigree, sounds sumptuous.
The tracks are nicely balanced between up tempo and slower more reflective tracks and within the thirteen songs over 46 minutes there’s not a second wasted. The album paints a picture of the gritty reality of a life lived amongst the normal working class. The society who once found their voice in The Arctic Monkeys are now being championed by The Clockworks ; ‘Danny’s Working like a Dog’ , ‘Enough is never Enough’, ’Mayday Mayday’ (I need a payday) all reflect the sluggish drudgery which is the reality for so many in these times of the cost of living crisis.
As far as alternative rock bands go The Clockworks are on the more indie, poppy side of things but this doesn’t mean they don’t pack a punch, the result is that the overall message is more palatable thanks to the sweet delivery of the vocals, infectiously catchy guitar riffs and anthemic rhythm section. There will be comparisons to Fontaines DC and Murder Capitol and rightly so but you would not actually mistake them for either, they sound like The Clockworks and that can only be a good thing.
With the overarching narrative of a discontented, disappointed protagonist trying to find meaning to their life, the album plays like a movie soundtrack, imagine The Greatest Showman but set in Galway, and fucking angry. There is fluidity to the lyrical content, nothing feels forced, it all flows wonderfully : “Blessed are the meek I’ve heard them say – but honestly, but there’s no romance in poverty, when dinner is a novelty” – superb. The only problem is with the earworms in evidence you will find yourself singing them on the bus.
Exit Strategy is a magnificent and modern suburban Shakespearean opus. If it’s not a hit, it should at the very least be studied in public schools, the country would be better for it. Expect to hear much more of The Clockworks in 2024, it will be a big year for them.