Review: Pleasures 'Softly Wait'

Band: Pleasures Album: ‘Softly Wait’ Release date: 6 April 2019

Pleasures’ newest album is a slow burn that leaves us wanting more. While not a knockout, initially each subsequent listen gives me late eighties vibes of music from my childhood. Overall I feel like the band took two recording session halves and combined them for their newest release, Softly Wait. The new release doesn’t feel at odds with itself, but I do feel the album sequencing could have worked more cohesively. For me, the four live tracks from the KEXP session last June sounded better than the same recorded tracks found on the full album. With each listen, I disagree with those initial feelings a bit more. Aron’s voice sounds a lot stronger in moments of the live session than on the studio recording. Bit too much filter and effects for me, let that voice shine! I like the little imperfections rather than overproducing everything. The vocal styling fits the band’s vibe and sound very well in my opinion. It’s refreshing to hear somebody sounding so natural. That entire live session felt a bit awkward at the start though. From questions asked to general conversation silence, I think things just did not feel relaxed or comfortable from DJ Sharlese to the band. As the band got into the second half of the performance everyone loosened up, maybe everyone just experienced an off day when the KEXP session was filmed. With each listen this album reminds me more of being home in the late eighties listening in the car with my Mum. Everyone plays their parts so well with respect to other members of the band. Nothing is too loud or possessive within the mix, not something you experience often these days musically. The saxophone in particular is prominently displayed all over the new Pleasure’s release to great effect. The second half of the album is full of gems. I am curious to know when and where all of these songs were written. Things almost sound to me like two halves put together to make this release. Maybe the band was in a weird headspace at the time. Aron did mention that they had a rotating drummer seat for some time. The KEXP session brought in a number of members to flesh things out for a live setting. Certainly a band to see live and experience sonically versus listening in your room, two sides of the same coin. “Cruisin’ With Drink” is a strong opener. Really distills this entire release and member strengths into a quick snapshot. “Studio Seven” highlights Aron’s voice. Enjoy how after the opener the band takes a “step back” to support Aron. Of the album offerings the first two tracks give off the strongest “eighties pop” sensibilities. “Notes of the Beach” begins almost as if the band said “our turn.” Less singing really serves the instrumental aspect of this band. I would love to have these tracks released sans vocals just to hear. Even the stems, could be an interesting remix album out of this. I can imagine sitting near Lake Union or walking around the Des Moines Marina playing this song. I live in Denver now but this certainly takes me back to a nice 80 degree day back home in the Pacific Northwest. “Old Friend” has a real Diners (Arizona) band vibe from these pop vocals. I could see Pleasures tour with him, solo or as the full band, and maybe Denver’s own The Milk Blossoms for a nice rounded tour package. Maybe in a live setting this could be performed solo with acoustic guitar or percussion accompaniment. That would be a special moment for an intimate living room show. “Stuck In A Moment” is probably the album highlight for me. Want to put this on every mix I make for someone this year. From the instrumentation to the vocals this song is expertly written. So damn catchy, sultry, and funky simultaneously. A highlight from the KEXP live session too, look how much fun everyone is having when they play this track! Favourite vocals on the release by far go to “Waiting on Another.” From the story told lyrically to their audible delivery, they really suit the band esthetic. Still had that older vibe but does not feel dated one bit. A real refreshing track that breaks up the album. I’d almost start the album on the B-side and go to the front on my home turntable. Still the group sequenced the release for reasons of their own. Just feel like a few of the later tracks were heavier hitters than how the album initially starts. All about the keys on “Closer to Love.” Not even tickling the shit out of the ivories, less is certainly more for this track winding down the album. Another fun and funky track to close out the album “Softly Wait.” This is a mix of the second half of the album instrumentally and the first part vocally I feel. I generally select three tracks that I find to be real highlights but this is number four. I go back and forth between this and “Waiting on Another” for top moments of ‘Softly Wait.’ Overall this was a quick and enjoyable forty minute listen. I really want to go back on their Bandcamp page and hear past releases. One of my favourite things is to see a group or artist’s musical progression. George and Aron have played together for a number of years. They write and arrange the songs but in future Pleasures releases hopefully Adrienne stays around for the group to incorporate more of her ideas and influence. Softly Wait is more of a grower than an initial “love it” release but I think that is suits the band and the music. People willing to sit and absorb will see that dedication pay huge dividends as closing title track “Softly Wait’ fades out. Vocally I felt some takes could be redone but I think that’s part of the entire band esthetic. The album title says it all, the Seattle group Pleasures delivers us a slow burn leaving us wanting more. Hope that this short European run sees the group return for a nationwide tour or at least a date within a six hour drive of Denver. Standout Tracks: “Studio Seven”, “Stuck in a Moment”, and “Waiting On Another.” 36 minutes. 8 tracks.

If the playlist doesn't load, click here.

Don’t forget to check out their live KEXP performance from last June, here.

- Upcoming Shows - Brussels, Paris, and a few summer benefit shows back in the Northwest. One track is currently available on the group’s Bandcamp page. On the Halfshell records page you can hear the first four album tracks. Click on over and give your ears a treat!

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