The Clockworks – Exit Strategy (Life And Times Recordings)

The Clockworks – Exit Strategy (Life And Times Recordings)

Galway-born but London based (more of that later) The Clockworks have been on the radar of those with a good ear, ever since a raft of swaggeringly catchy guitar-led singles going back as far as 2019, but it is only now that their debut is seeing the light of day.

On this topic, they say:

“We didn’t want to put out an album until we knew there were enough people who wanted to hear it and until we were ready. For years people have been asking ‘when’s the album’ and we always just said next year.”

This self-imposed delay has worked well for them, ensuring they have written enough songs with a cohesive narrative (which may seem surprising as 5 of the 13 tracks have already seen the light of day in one form or another, although re-recorded here) and have allowed them to have Bernard Butler produce the record at Abbey Road (no pressure there then) whilst releasing on their own Life And Times Recordings label.

The theme running through the album is of a main protagonist moving from Galway to London, mirroring the band’s journey, the two halves of the record (literally on the vinyl version) represent each of those two locations.

The Galway side starts solemnly with the dramatic, almost cinematic ’Deaths And Entrances’, which builds and builds atmospherically with a tale of a strange night out, at first it seems wordy for an opening track on a debut album but it sets the tone for what’s to come.

This crashes into a duo of tales on monetary struggles, their debut single ‘Bills And Pills’ (‘bills keep coming)’ and Mayday Mayday (‘I need a payday’).  Another early single ‘Enough Is Never Enough’ follows and all three are all choppy guitars and confidence, post-punk brashness that is made to be shouted back at the band live, touring it, as they are, at the beginning of 2024,

‘Hall Of Fame’ brings down the decibel count and ups the maturity level, evoking a world-weary Pogues-esque drawl, you can almost smell the booze, such is the reek of despair.

It’s such a well-paced album, it’s variety showing the bands self-confidence in not sticking to a particular sound, there’s such care taken of the writing, which although very observational, is never unnecessarily too much, the message being that there’s a story that they need to get out.

‘Feels So Real’ kicks off the London side and it feels as though comparisons will be made between this and another recent Irish band’s debut album, and on none so more than this track.

Butlers’ production adds a level of sheen to proceedings, with orchestral sounding flourishes to the hints of Smiths-esque ‘Advertise Me’.

The newer tracks may not hit as immediately as the likes of some of the earlier missing singles (‘The Future Is Not What It Was’ and ‘Throw It All Away’ spring instantly to mind), but in the long run that will no doubt make the record more of a grower with added substance, rather than something you’ll give a few listens to then discard.

Recent single ‘Westway’ ends the record, its lovely lilting melodies making it a suitable closer.

“You’ll be ok,Ends are beginnings.

Doesn’t matter where you areEverybody plays their partYour scene’s about to startLeave before the movie’s over.”

A wall of guitars then fade to black.

As mentioned earlier, a lazy a comparison as it is, it’s indeed true to say if you loved Dogrel then you’ll adore this, it may take a bit longer, but it will be worth your time.

A glorious first act.

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