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htrk - Work (Work, Work)
HTRK slickly seduce with the unheimlich sensuality of their third album 'Work (Work, Work)'. Since their last LP they've unfortunately pared down to a duo after the sudden death of bass player Sean Stewart in 2010, and while it may be gauche to attribute the lightless mood of this LP to his departure, it certainly lends some inescapable context. It's hardly like they were doing tween-pop previously, but the sense of gloom and dystopia is almost suffocatingly closer to the edge, from the crawling-on-all-fours pacing, to the detached, androgynous vocals of Jonnine Standish and their perversely detailed production values. They've got our attention instantly with the sideroom synth eurotica of 'Ice Eyes Eis', and sustain the mood beautifully into the pinging metallic delays and seeping reverb of 'Slo Go', sounding like a Atelecine produced by a young Geoff Barrow after a The Birthday Party binge. Dragging us further down, on 'Eat Yr Heart' the beats become clammier and more echoic, while Jonnine's vox become a ghostly vapour trail of condensed reverb. At the album's apex, 'Skinny', the beats feel like a dystrophied version of something from Mika Vainio's 'Life, It Eats You Up…' album, and 'Synthetik' serves a tangibly textured taste of steely Techno pulses and opiated post-punk guitar drifts into 'Poison'. To close, the heavy-hearted atmopshere weighs heavier still on 'Work That Body', tracing anaesthetic connections with their Melbourne forefathers, Pelican Daughters, before the bleak romance of 'Love Triangle' and the blank-eyed writhe of 'Body Double'. For fans of occluded sonics from Pump to Atelecine or Mika Vainio, this is a strongly recommended listen.