Review Summary: Pleasure Death finds a more focused but less effective band. A few gems point to the band's later major success and make it worth the listen. Includes the classic Potato Junkie.
Pleaseure Death is the second of the early indy EPs that kick off the career of Irish alt-metal band Therapy?. After this EP the band would sign with major A&M, and would quickly embark on an extremely productive four years, providing the bands biggest successes.
Pleasure Death was later repackaged along with Babyteeth by Quarterstick Records and released in the US as Caucasion Psychosis. This was quite fitting as the two EPs share the same raw sound and production values. Recorded a few months apart they are very much companion pieces for the band's catalog. But upon closer listen the two are quite different in terms of material, clearly showing a growing band in transition. Unfortunately growth here does not necessarily mean superior material.
Where Babyteeth was extremely hard driving and, in places, unconventional, Pleasure Death finds the band primarily sticking to a more straightforward song structure, with mixed results. Both EPs feature inspired drumming and bass, but here we see Andy Cairns' guitar and vocals starting coming more to the forefront. Yet where this usually could lead to more accessable material, some of the material on Pleasure Death lacks the energy and impact of Babyteeth.
The EP kicks off with rollicking drums and basslines or Skinning Pig. Where this song is left wanting is for focus. It goes on for a few minutes too long, detracting from it's overall effectiveness. The song flows reather seemlessly into Fantasy Bag with it's driving basslines. This combo would be put to use quite effectively in concert by the band. Unfortunately here, both are missing much of the energy that was exhibited live.
***kicker and D.L.C. are the weakest tracks on the album. ***kicker seems like the weaker (and not as loud) stepchild of Babyteeth's Animal Bones, and D.L.C. the lazy sister of Loser Cop. Both tracks share structural similarities with their Babyteeth companions, but are scaled back. As a result they lose any real potentcy.
Prison Breaker is a bit of a mixed bag. The drums are great, and the bass strong, but the tempo is a little too meandering for the first half. Yet the second half of the track is brilliant. Not only do the boys demonstrate some great rhythm but some of Andy Cairns most colorful lyrics "We were making love, when we could have been doing drugs!"
It's the final track Potato Junkie of the EP that clearly shows the band's future. Here , all of the elements are there. The driving lead bass line, rolling drums, catchy guitar hooks, and scathing lyrics, that will lead the band to greater heights. This song is also most notible for providing one of the greatest (and most absurd) concert sing alongs in music history. "James Joyce is ***ing My Sister!". As quirky as that is, the rest of the lyrics are the first real demonstration of the thoughtful and angry Andy Cairns, versus just the angry, as he points out the absurdity of the issues of Northen Ireland and the idea of what it means to be Irish. "I can't remember 1690, I was born in 1965". This song is still a staple of Therapy? shows today, and makes Pleasure Death indespensible to Therapy? fans.
In the end Pleasure Death , much like Babyteeth, is an interesting look at a young band. But aside from Potato Junkie, there is little which will make it's way into your top rotation. It's not as unyeilding as Babyteeth, but then again not as rewarding.
I highly recommend, if you have the option, of getting Caucastion Psychosis. This way you get everything of Therapy?'s infancy in one package, which turns it into a more complete listening experience.