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Pleasure Forever 

Pleasure Forever (Sub Pop)

In stark contrast to the majority of generic indie-rock bands, Pleasure Forever is exceedingly grandiose and ambitious, and this album is a refreshing change of pace from the usual self-loathing and insecurity that purveyors of the genre usually serve up. From the somber opening bars of "Goodnight," in which singer Andrew Rothbard stages a brief soliloquy, to the opulent structures with which the group surrounds it, you can tell that these guys aren't the usual lo-fi losers. They aim high, and to their credit, they most often succeed. This might not be the best album you'll hear all year, but it's one of the most interesting.

Arranged as a suite, all the songs run together like the proverbial "song cycle" or "concept album" -- but it's not clear exactly what the concept is. The decadent Nick Cave quality of the material suggests cheap hotels, gambling debts, and late-night madness. Guitarist Josh Hughes's use of the ghostly zither gives this whole thing a definite "noir" quality. There's a great lift-off point in "Meet Me in Eternity," in which Rothbard keeps repeating that phrase until the dam bursts into a rollicking cadence that has him screaming in prime Iggy fashion. It may be the most effective combination of theatrics and classic-rock constructions since vintage Alice Cooper or David Bowie. This album is a loud and imposing mash of pounding drums, piano, guitars, and the well-lubricated vocal antics of Rothbard. Some of the melodies are so hidden, they'll only become apparent after repeated listenings. But even the first time around, it's a pretty safe bet you'll be enthralled -- especially if you like a little drama thrown in.

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