Music videos can be either remarkably simple or truly immersive on every front, with very few ever settling in the grey area in between. In the case of The Wheel Workers’s new visual experience for “Harbor,” it would honestly surprise me a great deal if I were the only critic placing it in the latter category. Though still a somewhat traditional music video, designed to get the audience engaged with the words more than anything else, “Harbor” feels like a full-fledged concept piece, boasting more color and excitement than some of the more minimalist-inspired content gaining steam in the American underground this fall.
The vocals are, at times, even more potent than some of the instrumentation in this song, not to mention a whole lot leaner in the grander scheme of things. This isn’t to dismiss the mix of the other melodic components in the track as lacking at all, but rather to simply acknowledge just how powerful a force the vocal harmony is here, particularly when we’re careening through the chorus on the back of a gusty groove. It’s not rocket science, but developing this kind of sonic momentum still isn’t a super easy task, even for the most talented of players.
Even though The Wheel Workers are playing what feels like a true crossover as opposed to a straightforward single, scarcely is there a moment in “Harbor” that feels inorganic or recycled in any fashion. It would have been easier to strip down the percussion in the style of similar works, but this band is too smart for that; they want to go bold or go home here, and their moxie is a big part of the reason why this track and its video are so addictive.
In the music video for “Harbor,” the movements in the music are synchronized with the imagery on-screen to create a rather surreal effect as we get closer to the end of the song, but this isn’t a stab at postmodern pop. The Wheel Workers are, for all intents and purposes, an alternative pop-rock band that wouldn’t appear to have any legitimate interest in diving into the mainstream half of their genre, but instead of translating as retrogressive here, they’re doing the opposite. They’re soulful and strong, which is usually a bit more reliable and consistent than over-ambitiousness has ever been.
Those who weren’t already listening to The Wheel Workers might want to think about doing so this October, as their new work in “Harbor” is one of the more superb music video/single duos that the underground has submitted to the general public this year. There are a lot of ways to make a single work, and in my opinion, this band showcases one of the simpler channels through which to operate in their latest release. It’s telling of how far they can go with this project, and how effective they can be with fans, which is one of the more important elements in making it on either side of the dial these days.
We do music reviews for Independent Artists and Publicists.