HTRK Work (work, work)

HTRK Work (work, work)
How do you come back from the death of bandmate? Australia's appropriately moody and minimal HTRK (pronounced "Hate Rock") lost bassist Sean Stewart early last year to suicide, but return with their sophomore record. Work (work, work) sounds pleasingly like the missing link between early post-punk and the sensual trip-hop of Portishead, thanks to the strength of vocalist Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang's beat programming. The band's new incarnation eschews Stewart's bass for a variety of increasingly creative industrial beats and atmospheric synth pads barely loud enough to process. The record reaches a new level of emotional resonance on mid-album tracks "Skinny" and "Synthetik." "Work That Body" has a title that seems befitting of the top 40; however, HTRK are not musically predictable. The track is a subdued affair with a slow build that teasingly never reaches a distinguishable climax. Work (work, work) is a bleary-eyed venture into murky but especially promising territory; it's not easy to say where HTRK can go next. (Ghostly)