Album Review – Workstuff – Half-Asleep, Devoted 2 EP

On August 17, 2023, Workstuff’s debut EP, “Half-Asleep, Devoted 2” is set to launch into the sonic stratosphere, an eighteen-minute-long journey packed with six distinct tracks. The EP is an exploration into the deep recesses of the artist’s psyche. It’s a profound probe into a world navigated through the lens of newly discovered neurodivergence. The journey through this EP is interwoven with melancholy and dark humor, echoing the artist’s personal tribulations and triumphs.

“Half-Asleep, Devoted 2” employs a unique blend of sounds, an auditory cocktail that mixes trip-hop, electroclash, early psychedelia, mid-century heartbreak tunes, and a dash of the avant-garde. Each instrumental is smartphone-produced, a testament to the contemporary artist’s adaptability and resourcefulness. The sonic landscape it creates feels intimately familiar, yet it hints at something unheard before, lending the EP a disquietingly surreal touch.

The work is produced in collaboration with Ste Cole (a.P.A.t.T.) in the historic St. Bride’s Church, Liverpool. This partnership sees the six tracks soar into an ethereal plane, showcasing influences ranging from the whimsical and ominous vibes of Captain Beefheart, the witty irony of Jarvis Cocker, and the enigmatic echoes of contemporary art-pop mavens like Cate Le Bon and Julia Holter.

The EP’s lead single, “Big Clam Shell”, is a peculiar musical mosaic. Its lyrics follow the intriguing pattern of disjointed confessions that define the EP. The song is a constant vacillation between a dreamscape and reality, between longing and letting go, between regret and acceptance. “I don’t dream of / oh, the one that got away / in a big clam shell” — the recurrent line is a beautiful paradox of yearning and rejection, the desire to hold on and the inevitable act of moving on.

The verse “If it’s in the charts / then I’ll do anything it takes / as long as it’s not gonna / inconvenience me”, indicates a sardonic commentary on the pursuit of fame and its often superficial facade. The lyrics hint at an existential yearning, a quest to understand life beyond conventional paradigms, and the struggle to reconcile with the human tendency to avoid inconvenience or discomfort.

Meanwhile, the line, “I’ve got a sore stomach and I don’t feel / remotely missed”, poignantly underscores the artist’s isolation and feelings of invisibility, further complemented by the song’s eclectic soundscape. The song is enigmatic, forcing listeners to dive into its many layers to extract its true essence.

The EP is steeped in the artist’s personal experiences, his past traumas, and life lessons. It’s a riddle that invites listeners to decipher its hidden meanings while appreciating its intricate soundscapes. In the world of “Half-Asleep, Devoted 2”, every revelation feels like an epiphany, every phrase a confession, every sound a marker on the journey of self-discovery.

Workstuff’s debut EP is more than just a collection of songs — it’s an auditory journey through the artist’s psyche, a trip that’s as disorienting as it is enlightening, as profound as it is playful. “Half-Asleep, Devoted 2” is not just an EP; it’s a testament to the human spirit’s complexity and resilience. Through its abstract lyricism and innovative sounds, the EP resonates with the listener, creating an enduring connection that extends beyond the mere act of listening.

In its totality, Workstuff’s “Half-Asleep, Devoted 2” is a breathtaking, mesmerizing journey that leaves a deep impact long after the last note has faded. The EP serves as a powerful debut, positioning Workstuff as an artist who isn’t afraid to tread uncharted waters, and in doing so, manages to craft something that’s profoundly unique and emotionally resonant.

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