WORK is a tough band to pin down. With toes dipped in the divergent waters of punk, folk, and even on the surface country, the trio manages to subtly nod to a wide breadth of acts that range from Lucero to The Hold Steady to Jonathan Richman and countless places in between, all while still maintaining a sense of identity all its own. Doing The Lords—WORK’s latest full-length and the follow-up to 2014’s The Long Con—shows the band’s malleable musicianship that melds poetic and intellectual lyrics with minimalist instrumentation to forge something that touches all corners of the sonic spectrum over the course of 10 tracks and still comes out sounding distinctly like WORK.
Slow-percolating opening track “Good Times” yields to the lively and Craig Finn-channeling “Let’s Sleep In” before finding bandleader Joe Cannon making his own presence known with his emphatic howls on “We Will Have No More Marriages.” Cannon—a former UW-Milwaukee and Marquette philosophy professor—offsets oftentimes bare bones and, well, workmanlike song arrangements with heady lyrics that include William Faulker quotes (“These Girls Air Ghosts”) and paradoxical assertions like “If you feel sick, you might be sick / If you feel well, you’re probably sick” (“Hey, Hey, It’s OK”). In Doing The Lords, WORK careens wildly at times (peppy and anthemic “Hear, Hear, Mr. Beer” being immediately followed by the emotional crawl of album-stealer “We Get What We Want” comes to mind), but never strays too far to alienate.