In the backswing of a heavily-textured beat, we find the first few strands of a melody ready to pull us into an unescapably alluring web in “Harbor,” the new single and music video from indie rockers The Wheel Workers. It’s obvious from the jump that we’re listening to a hybrid track that feels like a combination of punk, psychedelia, and something just a bit more contemporary than the standard, but nothing about the music sounds or feels all that much like a standard experiment. The music video wastes no time in embracing us with as much color as we can handle, and alongside the hearty harmonies that The Wheel Workers are serving up here, it gets harder and harder to turn away from the screen as the song plays out.
There’s a dreaminess to the visual construct in “Harbor” that I wasn’t expecting to find in this music video but was excited by nonetheless. Rather than putting together a pseudo-concept inside of a short and sweet document here, The Wheel Workers create a collage of imagery that leads us from one frame to the next feeling gripped by the content regardless of whether or not we’re well-versed in this band’s style. We aren’t asked for anything in return for a smorgasbord of powerful beats, sensuous melodies, and a swaying harmony that could turn around even the hardest of days, and in 2023, I think that makes this particular release a rare treat to be enjoyed by any who can appreciate pop/rock.
If tonality is everything in this genre of music, The Wheel Workers don’t have any worries ahead of them at the moment. They sound so sharp and unfiltered here, yet there’s never any heavy pop varnish to come between us and the substance of the songcraft. They might not have wanted to do something elaborate in “Harbor,” but they’re performing it with as much passion as if they had; that’s half the battle in making a quality song, and for this group, it never sounds complicated. This is a band that seems to have a better handle on their direction than some of their peers in the underground do this fall, and that’s going to go a long way toward establishing their brand as one of the best around.
As “Harbor” disappears behind the clouds from which it came shining through just a few minutes earlier, denying the fact that The Wheel Workers have one of the more approachable sounds in their scene right now feels increasingly futile. They’re cooking with gas in this release and breaking off a feel-good jam in their latest music video that couldn’t be reaching the audience at a more pivotal moment, and even though they might not be a household name, they’re certainly rolling like they are here. I’ll have to hear more of their content to be sure of their long-term credibility, but for the time being, The Wheel Workers are a band coming out of a complex scene more than worthy of a watch this season.
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