David Batty. Nicky Butt. Scott Parker.
All footballers who may not have been the most fashionable players – very few were rushing to get a Butt ‘8’ shirt on their Manchester United kit during the 1990s – but were vital cogs in the workings of their respective sides. Respected by managers and team-mates for the hard work they put in, many of these midfielders would also have a nasty streak which added some spark to their play. Now Kingston four-piece Midfield Workhorse have named themselves in tribute to these underappreciated men – will they display the same level of passion and creativity?
With another football reference in ‘Lincolnshire Poacher’, the first track from their debut EP ‘Bunch of Damn Dogs’, the band are in no mood to mess about from kick-off. It’s a song that gets inside your head with its moments of latter-day Biffy-style melody, before it twists and turns back into a more far-reaching sound, akin to the much-missed Grammatics. Del Noble sings about how ‘Secrets are just too elusive for me’ while the drums drive it forward and yelped backing vocals are also thrown into the mix. It’s the kind of song you’ll find yourself humming along to yourself days after first hearing it.
Having already supported the likes of Jetplane Landing, Johnny Foreigner and Tall Ships, Midfield Workhorse have been honing their sound for a while and ‘Challenge Accepted’ finds them in a more math-rock lead place, although the pop hooks remain vitally imperative, especially in the contrasting sound when Del emotionally sings: ‘Nobody said life was gonna be easy’. Complete with Yourcodenameis:milo-style backing vocals, this is a short and sharp song with a breakdown that gives the band the chance to showcase their musical nous. The final song on the EP, ‘Stolen Seconds’, is a fascinating mixture of American Football-style emo and good old-fashioned prog rock, complete with added bleakness and a line in black humour: ‘I can’t understand the depth of human depravity, you should all be left to hang and let yourself be judged by gravity’. The final moments of the song have more grungey elements as ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ is chanted again and again.
Definitely more Paul Ince than Gavin McCann, Midfield Workhorse will keep you entertained right up until the final whistle – expect some more explosive moments as they establish themselves as a first-team regular.