Pleasure Craft is a fitting name for Sam Lewis’s electro post-punk project. Futuristic, but with enough to nostalgia to ease the mind of any time traveller. It’s sheen and allure mired by the fact so many won’t ever get to see inside such a privileged mode of transportation. It dares to hope, however, that maybe those less fortunate can groove to the hum while inhaling its fumes.
After releasing a few singles and an EP (EP1), Lewis has sharpened his project’s sound. EP2 is more open than his previous efforts and more hard-hitting. Fuzzed-out bass lines and synth-parts and vocals delivered with attitude to match are key touchstones that inspire Pleasure Craft’s sound. Lewis’s vocals are dynamic and arresting. He often sounds anxious and bored all at once, encapsulating both the modern malaise and collective anxiety of the times. Industrializing the core of Pleasure Craft’s sound is an effective way of ensuring some of the unabashedly 80s synth riffs will have you throwing your hands in the air rather than throwing your eyeballs back into your head. Pleasure Craft’s sound is set in a dystopian future; It’s not music for the apocalypse, it’s music for after the apocalypse. Fun enough to dance to, seething enough for cathartic relief.
EP2’s five songs are unadulterated endorphin releasers, utterly danceable and equally shoutable. “Work It Out” doesn’t need to expand from its bass-snare-bass-snare rhythm to get you moving, but as it builds percussively with Lewis’s drones accentuated by Mingjia’s essential vocal feature, the depth and power of Pleasure Craft’s canvas is revealed. “Soda” is fittingly the only sweet song on the record. It’s jubilant chorus made all the more undeniable thanks to the hook-accentuating backing vocals. “Let It Fade” shows Pleasure Craft can do more than just make you dance. There is emotion and weight to all of these songs and the half-time drama of “Let It Fade”’s latter half shows it’s not just in the subtext. “Everything Is Fine” laments and proves how easily distractible we can be, even if the house is literally on fire.
EP2 is an immaculately crafted and subtly complex slice of pop-rock. It is full to the brim with contradiction, irony and performative passiveness but it doesn’t relish in the more pretentious aspects of its DNA. Wherever Pleasure Craft goes next, I want to be sure I have a boarding pass.