Review: Pleasure Beach

Words: Robbie Byrne

Ever take a punt on a record by judging its name and sleeve alone? Blame it on missing out on the Baltimore outfit’s Vicar Street performance last week, but there was something alluring about an Irish group called Pleasure Beach peddling dream pop. Well, that is if you believe the press release.

So is Pleasure Beach Ireland’s answer to Beach House? Is it some sort of Baywatch inspired soft porn movie that’s only available on VHS? Well, neither. Granted, there’s reverb aplenty and the odd hazy synth lead knocking about inside the Belfast five piece’s armoury, but that’s, unfortunately, where the similarities end.

Debuting with the tepid blogosphere hit Go, Pleasure Beach’s first single had more in common with middle of the road 80’s stadium rock than 90’s dream pop melancholy. One part Arcade Fire, one part Springsteen, one part skinny latte, Go was bland music for anonymous high street outlets. No more, no less.

As forgettable as Go is, it does an admirable job of masking the blatant plagiarism of Dreamer To The Dawn. From the chugging bassline and earthen guitar solo to the Win/ Régine aping vocal harmonies, this could be a lost demo from Funeral-era Arcade Fire. Win better have Judge Judy on speed dial.

Thankfully, for Pleasure Beach’s bank account, the outfit follow their own path on the subdued closer Hayley. Distinctly Irish but without being obviously so, Hayley’s slower tempo sees the band at ease with their own writing for the first time, while showcasing the fantastic potential that their male/female vocal harmonies harbours.

For a band active for only a little over 8 months, Pleasure Beach has undoubtedly come a heck of long way. But omitting their influencers would result in a far more impressive proposition.