Thinking Machines - Work Tapes (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Thinking Machines

Work Tapes (2010)


Philadelphia's Thinking Machines have been turning out post-punk-tinged indie rock for about a decade now. Their latest full-length, Work Tapes blends Dismemberment Plan's grooves with Meneguar and Nakatomi Plaza's punkier attributes, resulting in tunes that demand dancing, be it through moshing or something more graceful. At a tight 10 tracks, the album delivers one enticing dance-punk ditty after another.

"Dynamic Shields," while a fine song, is a somewhat misleading opening track. It's a little more ramshackle than the rest of the album would imply. Still, though, the song explodes right away, so I can see why it's the first cut. It boasts a quick tempo, the whole band rocks out and there's even a nice little faux-guitar solo via feedback section in the middle. "Never Reach Us Now" is marginally different--the band still fires off a big intro before getting to the verse; it's a little more tightly arranged, revealing a band that can pursue massive sounds while maintaining focused, well-rehearsed playing. The group returns to this noise/dance hybrid often, with success.

Some might find the songs repetitive after a while, but that kind of plays into Work Tapes' strengths. This is a guitar album, and it often segues into different forms of ethereal dissonance. Thinking Machines may be an indie rock band, but they also shift into Sabbath sludge rock territory on "Titan." They jam out like Autolux or "Work Tapes." Concluding cut "Loop" is one big cacophonous noise experiment.

So what might sound formless to some could sound like a musical melting pot to others. Thinking Machines are generally a dance-punk band, but listeners don't have to be enamored with either half of that description to enjoy Work Tapes. It's bigger and better than that.