Review Summary: The Pleasure and the Greed is both a step forward and a step back for the band.
Any rock music aficionado would likely agree with the statement that the 1970s were the golden age for the whole scene. From the very beginning of the decade, many bands (today considered classic) thrived in the unprecedented artistic freedom. Unconfined by any kind of musical boundaries they expanded the horizons with gusto, borrowing and introducing elements from other genres, creating new ways and means of expression. Only later, in the second half of the decade, all these experiments were shaped into new genres, the limitations that would more and more tie the hands of subsequent generations.
Why this kind of introduction, you might ask. What sort of connection is there between Big Wreck
and the 1970s? The answer is simple. Like many bands of that era Ian Thornley and Co. use a similar approach – they do not work within the frames of one genre, but employ the late 1990s alternative rock as a core and bead a set of elements from other styles on it. This is the reason why it is difficult to define more precisely their sound, and this is applicable to their second album, released in 2001, - The Pleasure and the Greed
It took Big Wreck four years to release a follow-up to the successful debut In Loving Memory Of…
. However, whether they managed to maintain (or even raise) the bar ends up being a question without a definite answer. On the one hand, all 16 tracks presented on the new album measure up to their predecessor. On the other hand, and at a closer look, it becomes clear that The Pleasure and the Greed
is both a step forward and a step back for the band.
The album sound is certainly more professional this time around, with the songs now cleaner and crispier. Although it seems to be a strange decision to put the vocals deeper in the mix, so sometimes it gets lost among the instruments, which manage to drown out the powerful voice of mister Thornley. Riffs became heavier, larger and somewhat monolithic, dominating over the whole album. But at the same time they sound simpler, periodically feeling monotonous (like in Undersold
, Broken Hands
, for example). To add some diversity progressive elements are used more actively, but following a peculiar trend attributable to this LP, they are partially offset by a lack of intermediate facets in the sound: there is either a loud and heavy, bordering on metallic, attack or quiet and melodic moments. This shortage of more organic transitions leads to a faster weariness from some of the songs.
All these strengths and weaknesses become more evident in presence of the most objectionable moment related to the record – there are too many tracks. Clearly, if they were all top-grade this matter would have been an apparent benefit. But unfortunately the quality varies from excellent (Inhale
, Everything Is Fine
, Ease My Mind
, All Our Days Are Numbered
, West Virginia
) to disastrous (but there are few of those, only overlong Mistake
and awfully monotone Broken Hands
), with a decent helping of average tracks, which contain individual curious elements, but not enough recover the whole song. Some of the cuts leave a feeling of being in incomplete and unfinished state, which is surprising given the four year gap between The Pleasure and the Greed
and the debut. It is certain that had Thornley cut 3-4 tracks (mainly from the first half), the album would have had a better chance to open up, ditching the unnecessary filler.
It is possible that some of these things contributed to the sad outcome: a year after releasing the album, which had a colder reception compared to the predecessor, Big Wreck broke up. But luckily 11 years later the band with a retooled line-up released Albatross
, starting a new and a lot more interesting chapter in its history.