The Werks call their music “psychedelic dance rock”, but somehow even the most complicated term does not quite define what they really are. Before you go on reading this, I strongly urge you to check out their performance of the entire “The Dark Side of the Moon” album if you have not yet. It is never a bad time to listen to Pink Floyd to begin with, but this really shows where their great musical influence comes from. As their second album, Mr. Smalls Sessions, has a bit of everything from Pink Floyd to funk.
A free gift to their ever-growing fanbase, this album was recorded at the titular Mr. Smalls theater in Millvale, PA. It continues to deliver what the band is known for, turning their album to a live concert experience. If you have ever been to their shows you can tell what a stimulating experience they are. Luckily for those who have not, this album does a fantastic job at preserving the essence of live music, including improvisations and seamless transitions.
For fans familiar with their music, this album sounds a lot “tamer” than their previous one, giving it a cozier and more mature tone. The seven songs display an incredible coherence throughout, yet each shows something different about the band. The opening song “Better than Before”, a quintessential rock jam, heavily features Rob Chafin’s vocal, which shines brighter than ever along Chris Houser’s signature guitar solo. “Fall”, on the other hand, brings back some funkiness fans love so much about them.
It is hard to not slow dance to “Music” and “let the music fill your soul”. Its soulful melody is likely to linger long in your head after it’s over. Next, “Looking for the Light” demonstrates the psychedelic side of the band. Its spaciness can make you get lost for a moment and not want to come back. Yet “Carry Me Back Home” brings you right back in the most gripping way. It is a deeply emotional song quite atypical of their usual style, yet irresistibly powerful. The last two songs, “Moetry in Potion” and “Fat Man” downplays the vocal component, and truly let their sheer instrumental power shine through.
Overall, Mr. Smalls Sessions uses seven songs to showcase all the different elements that made The Werks who they are. For fans, it is an intimate musical experience; as for others, it is a solid introduction to this fun and eclectic band.
You can stream the album for free, via Bandcamp. The Werks kick off a fall tour with Zoogma on October 16th, with a stop at The Gramercy Theatre in NYC on November 14th. Tickets for that show are available here.