Working for a Nuclear Free City: Businessmen & Ghosts

It's great to see this band finally getting a US release, but the sequence and packaging of this haphazard double-disc is deeply flawed.

Working for a Nuclear Free City

Businessmen & Ghosts

Label: Deaf, Dumb + Blind
US Release Date: 2007-11-13
UK Release Date: Available as import

It is high time that Working for a Nuclear Free City received a proper release in the States. It has been over a year since their wonderful self-titled debut came out in Europe, and their big, orchestrated kitchen sink of sounds has been getting a lot of press ever since. Thankfully, Deaf, Dumb + Blind stepped up to the plate and decided to release the band's first album along with their follow-up EP Rocket as part of a double-disc package that they capped off with a slew of unreleased tracks.

While the band hardly needs such an expansive introduction to an American audience, the generosity of the release seems kind enough, at first. It becomes apparent pretty quickly when you put the disc in that the sequencing has been mixed up for Businessmen & Ghosts. Instead of putting the debut album on the first disc, and then Rocket and the new material on the second, Businessmen & Ghosts finds all these tracks jumbled together in a seemingly random order. In doing this, the release makes the band sound far more aimless and unwieldy than they actually are.

The beauty of Working for a Nuclear Free City was its ability to visit a myriad of sounds while still remaining cohesive and controlled. Giant, textured dance numbers like "Troubled Son" butted up against the glam-and-gloom synthesizers of "Dead Fingers Talking". The Krautrock of "Forever" opposes the dream-pop of "Fallout". It is an album full of big orchestration that manifests itself in a series of disparate but beautifully lush parts. And the Rocket EP serves as a nice follow-up, as it takes all the elements of the full-length and tones them down into a quieter, more subtly textured record. The acoustic guitar-driven title track is a thick-layered bit of hazy pop, with less sonic flourishes than most of their work, that still rests the song on a sturdy and driving bass line.

Unfortunately, the two releases are meshed together and mixed in with other tracks that don't stand up nearly as well. The vignette pieces that served as sinew on the band's full-length -- tracks like "The Tree" and "The Tape" -- are cast-off onto the second disc and left to stand on their own, which they were never meant to do. And they are surround by big, loose new songs like "Donkey" and "Soft Touch". And while those songs, like a lot of the new stuff here, sound big and have their moments, they don't have the touch of restraint that the material from Working for a Nuclear Free City had. They also lack the gentle touch of Rocket. And by conflating these new, lesser tracks with the material from their albums, Businessmen & Ghosts comes across as a document that poorly represents the band. It makes them seem typical and overdone, like a band in need of an editor. In truth, Working for a Nuclear Free City is a band worth listening to, and worth watching out for. Their two releases in Europe are both beautiful, cohesive, and unique pieces of music. But unfortunately, Businessmen & Ghosts does not let the band's best stuff shine. And sure, the price is right on this two-disc set, and you're sure to get your money's worth in quantity. But, as far as quality goes, you might be better off dropping the couple extra bucks to score an import copy of Working for a Nuclear Free City.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.