Even before The Clockworks had released a debut album of any length (LP or EP), they had sold out venues across Ireland and the UK. Their fiery blend of post-punk and Brit-rock made them underground sensations. Their popularity eventually became too great that word started to get out, and they became one of THE Irish bands to know. Even the Pixies took notice and asked James McGregor (vocals, guitar), Sean Connelly (guitar), Damian Greaney (drums), and Tom Freeman (bass) to open for them on their 2021 US tour. Now four years into their existence, the London via Galway, Ireland outfit have finally given their loyal and growing fanbase a small compilation of music with the release their self-titled debut EP.

The Clockworks is both everything one would expect from the band that first got people raging with “Bills and Pills” and unexpected with the quartet going in a different direction for one song. The mini-album commences with a banger in “Endgame”. Guitars erupt, the rhythms feverishly pulsate, and the resulting sonic oblivion is jarring and urgent. It is matched by McGregor’s superb songwriting. As one of the most outstanding, young songwriters today, he introduces us to the EP’s protagonist. This man is down on his luck and consumed by demons. In this track, delusion, paranoia, and alternative realities are his companions. 

“I know I think too much about everything
And I care too much about what I think
Cause I regret e
very time I drink
When it turns me into
It turns me into someone I hate”

The equally crushing “Money (I Don’t Wanna Hear It)” follows. It is an early ’00s Brit-rocker that combines the excitable fervor of a young Arctic Monkeys and the anxious energy of the Editors in their prime. While his bandmates deliver a dark and scorching number, McGregor describes how our hero seeks quick fixes to solve his growing debts. His situation is partly his own doing, yet society has done very little to help him overcome his problems. 

“The pony comes last, he’s reaching for his six
He was low on cash, the credit card is king
The foreman laid him off, he was beggin’ for a win
But the devil on his shoulder said, ‘The angel wasn’t in’
Smiles on and on, now he’s swayin’ for his sins”

Speaking of the crumbling city that contributes to this man’s fall, The Clockworks unsheathe a cutting critique of London on “Feels So Real”. The grizzled guitars and the bursting rhythms reflect the decay of England’s biggest municipality. Growing social inequality, brittle infrastructure, drug and alcohol addiction are everywhere, and crime around every corner. “There’s a buzz in the air by the glow of the lamps / The city’s a lady, the city’s a tramp”, McGregor sings from the get-go, warning us that this once grand city is a shell of its former self. In this dystopian-like world, the protagonist excels. He smiles while “tripping over bottle tops, skip round syringes” because this is his reality.

The EP comes to a close with the surprisingly tepid and acoustic “The Temper”. Featuring just McGregor and an acoustic guitar, he assumes the identity of the lonely singer-songwriter sitting in the corner of a bar and singing to anyone paying attention. One, however, does not come for the chilled melody, but rather to understand the fate of this gambler, deal-maker, and hermit. We learn that he’s lost everything, including the one he loves.

“It’s a struggle not to cry
When all you want is what you’ve lost
It’s choking close to dying
When anyone mentions her name
A fury that he couldn’t temper
A temper that he couldn’t take”

While The Clockworks’ self-titled EP is a mere four songs, it demonstrates their immense talents and potential. A potential to be the grandest Irish rock band. They’ll need to release a few albums, though, to fully claim the throne that awaits them.

The mini-album is out now on It’s Creation Baby and streaming everywhere. 

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