For such a massive city, the number of famous bands that hail from Birmingham is, arguably, disproportionately small. Four-piece indie rock band Pleasure House intend to change this sorry state of affairs, and — although they’ve only been together for a year or two — they’re already turning heads.
Their latest EP, Show Your Colours, shows their progression from indie pop to a new, “roadworn” sound, and this is clear in the opening track, ‘Cyan’. It starts with a light, tropical beat (reminding me of one of the more relaxing alarm options on my phone) but soon these electric water-drops are scattered by a confident guitar revving into action, and a storm of drums. The new era has arrived.
The lyrics tell the story of someone stealing a part of the band’s music, and there are some truly beautiful lines. “Your blue eyes / look oh so green” is a nice twist on tired clichés, and “are you patiently waiting to take this from me” may seem unadorned — slightly mundane, even — but frontman Alex’s rhythm and delivery is spot on, and the song quickly opens up into the choppy guitar and atmospheric vocals of the chorus. It’s a really nicely-constructed track, too, fading off three-quarters of the way through, before a slow, echoing harmony builds into the strong guitar we’ve already come to recognise and love.
The new era has arrived
In many ways, listening to ‘Cyan’ feels like a mate is telling me about this dickhead who they work with, but at the same time the floating vocals and catchy beat also give it a surprising summery vibe. Looking back at their older music, Pleasure House have clearly matured to a more organic and heavy sound over the past year, and are proud to point out they’re “not poppy any more” in a recent interview, but there’s still an optimistic indie feel which seems destined for post-exam relaxation in the Devon sun.
Track two, ‘Wasted On Me’, breaks out with a traditional sprint on guitar, but soon quietens to show its colours as a song which primarily wants to focus on Alex’s brilliant vocals. Although he doesn’t boast a pronounced Brummie accent, his voice still has a homely feel which is complemented by the domestic setting (“we can maybe sit around, get stoned and stare at the TV”). But the lyrics are arguably a bit repetitive: a spell which is only broken by the beautifully-balanced poetry of lines like “we’re not getting any younger, I don’t want to wander carelessly”, delivered during one of the quieter laid-back of the song. The simplistic lyrics don’t stop me loving the tune, either, and after hearing the track just a few times, I’m soon singing (shouting) the euphoric, fast-paced chorus as I walk around the house.
Recently, I’ve been sizing up bands in relation to The Kooks (who have had a little renaissance on my Spotify) and the third track ‘Why’d You Have To Go?’ definitely compares favourably, featuring emphasised, bouncy syllables that trip delightfully off the tongue. It’s a song about regret, and getting kicked out of a club, but it’s humorous and upbeat too, with lines like “last night, way too gone / I didn’t even know what I did wrong” surely striking a chord with students everywhere.
there’s an optimistic indie feel which seems destined for post-exam relaxation in the Devon sun
They put distortion and other effects to good use too: there’s a section towards the end where the sound is ‘bottled’, presumably to represent the noise of the music once they’re kicked out of the club, and it’s small touches like this which make it a captivating song. The powerful bursts of guitar after each word in the chorus give a similarly pleasing structure to the lyrics, as if this is a laid-back musical question-and-answer session.
‘M.O.B’ stands for “man over board” — something you realise as soon as it’s shouted emphatically for the first time — and it’s marginally the weakest track on the EP, suffering from a lack of lyrical variety, and falling into the same cycle of verses far too often. That said, it’s still enjoyable, especially the appetising bass underneath it all. The end is creative, too, as the band confidently take their singing down to harmonious ‘la la la’s, which eventually fire back up into a deliciously distorted conclusion.
‘One-to-watch’ is probably an understatement: I expect great things from this band. Pleasure House reminds me of a slightly heavier Catfish and the Bottlemen, and if their recent success is anything to go by, it’s surely a good sign for the boys from Brum.
Show Your Colours EP – out on April 8.