Review: Spirit of the Beehive – ‘pleasure suck’
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“Pleasure sucks/The life/Out of everyone.” So grumbles the dying refrain of pleasure suck’s title track, the cloying wordplay resonating dually; in a grandiose philosophical dialect, over-indulgence in pleasure numbs us to terse connection through its escapism; but in the pithiest terms, pleasure just fucking sucks man. The fleeting rapture of casual sex and drunken vitality – or even the trivial vestiges of eating an entire cake or engaging with a rabbit-hole Twitter debate – almost customarily devolves into insecurity, or inconsequence, or self-loathing. Yet the levity of the fleeting rapture ensures we return, because it was damn satisfying.
The inherent paradox of pleasure merges, both musically and tonally, on the record. Fingernails-on-blackboard, feverish guitars secede from languorous synths and hazed-out vocals. It shifts from disharmony to melody as erratically as self-awareness punctuates Its restlessness flexes from classically-trained epics to jittery 90 second whirlwinds; from Archers Of Loaf to Pedro The Lion and then to Swans within a Mr Hyde of a time signature. Songs drift seamlessly around one another; the enervating dissonance of ‘time to scratch them all’ blips into the Bradford Cox alt-country euphony of ‘pianos, heavy instrument’ innocuously.
Perhaps occasionally it feels more homage than body, too focussed on the alchemy than the product. But there’s so much to unpack here, so much to extrapolate and consider, that scepticism rapidly dissolves with the latest wait-holy-shit-is-that-SHOEGAZE?!? moment. Because, for the most part, the pileup works.
pleasure suck is dense, hysterical, and probably polarising; but if you’re remotely a rock nerd, searching for a surreal alternative history of our creed, it’s definitely worth your time.
– Keiran Devlin