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15th May 2024

The Pleasure Dome present ‘Liminal Space’: A surprisingly varied punk rock powerhouse

Bristolian rockers The Pleasure Dome return with their newest EP ‘Liminal Space’ to demonstrate their musical versatility
The Pleasure Dome present ‘Liminal Space’: A surprisingly varied punk rock powerhouse
@ Prescription PR

Liminal Space, the latest release from Bristolian punk-rockers The Pleasure Dome, opens not with the pounding of drums or shredding of a guitar, but the lively chatter of a bar. Glasses clink, conversations blur into each other, bodies can be heard shuffling into place. Weezer’s ‘Sweater Song’ springs to mind as a reference point. Over the noise, a riff begins to play. At first, there is no change in response, but the guitarist persists until the full band enters with force and intensity – now impossible to ignore. It’s an opener evocative of the fizzing anticipation of small venue gigs, and a perfect starting point for an EP that feels infused with live performance, in both production and structure.

‘The Duke Part II’ (the chatter serves as album opener, ‘Pt. I’) begins proceedings on powerful footing. Louder, jagged punk elements are contrasted by the simultaneous melodies and harmonies of backing vocalists, each element rendering the other more powerful and gifting the track a balanced, broader appeal. There is a touch of Liam Gallagher’s attitude and rawness in singer Bobby Spender’s delivery, as he repeatedly questions: “How did it all go wrong?” The track’s narrative of disillusionment with one’s surroundings, drifting between internal dismay and concern with untrustworthy friends, is one of the album’s strongest. However, like many of the efforts on this record, I felt it would have benefited from further development. The repetition of the same verse is powerful and a great hook, but I felt the band had more to say.

The remaining tracks on the EP show great variety and promise for The Pleasure Dome’s future. The grunge-rock and punk elements expected by fans of previous releases dominate ‘Your Fucking Smile’ and ‘A Shoulder To Cry On’. Here, the band’s DNA as a live act doesn’t shine but punches through. The blistering interaction of the rhythm section lends the former track a thrash metal feel, although I was put off by the playground-style taunting of the vocal delivery.

‘A Shoulder To Cry On’ is by far the stronger offering of the pair. The bass feels heavy and impactful. Both grunge and punk influences are worn with pride on this rocker’s tattered sleeves. Each section of the song is distinct and adheres almost religiously to the quite-loud-quite rule set out by so many grunge and punk acts. Seemingly already primed for live performance, the latter half features a call-and-response element. You can imagine many sweaty basement crowds getting whipped up into a frenzy over it, especially if the band choose to extend the section.

Joshua Wood @ Prescription PR

Meanwhile, ‘Sugar’ and ‘Suicide’ show a tender, acoustic side, complimented by the minimal production of Nick Cave collaborator James Trevascus. It’s an ambitious swing, which, on the latter track, really pays off. Whilst I enjoyed the lo-fi production of bluesy ‘Sugar’, it failed to develop into an engaging track. ‘Suicide’, however, shows the band’s desire to explore new ground to be rich with inspiration and emotional weight.

Previously, I felt the band’s lyrical simplicity held songs back. However, the repetition of “I’ve been there before” and “let me be there for you” perfectly communicated the desperation and earnestness of ‘Suicide’ and its message. It served as a powerful reminder that often what is so simple to say, is so hard to hear for those suffering.

The understated elements of the track punch way above their weight in assisting it to hit home. Spender’s strained vocal is beautifully paired with an acoustic guitar that is allowed to resonate and linger in the mix. This feels less like a live performance and more like a private conversation or a confession we couldn’t help but overhear. It’s almost uncomfortably personal, and you have to respect the band for going to such lengths for their art.

On this release, The Pleasure Dome prove that they are a band above pigeonholing, with a passionate and wide-reaching creativity, capable of being performed with equal ferocity and tenderness. This feels like a launch pad for something truly great, an indicator of potential, if not a finished product. And, whilst some tracks felt oversimplified and vocals a little too rough and ready for my taste, I eagerly await where this band will go next. With the right creative alterations, it could be somewhere fantastic.

Daniel Tothill

Daniel Tothill

A second year law with criminology student, with a passion for live music, culture and the world around us.

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