Pleasure Leftists - The Woods of Heaven (Cover Artwork)

Pleasure Leftists

The Woods of Heaven (2015)

Deranged Records

Post-punk is a fairly fashionable genre to dig from right now (though, I guess it has been for about 15 years or so). A handful of bands are wearing the genre signifiers well, but many others are falling flat on their face with their feeble attempts. Many of those groups borrow from the wiry, wide-eyed stutter steps of 1979 post-punk. Pleasure Leftists, on the other hand, are more in tune with the early '80s, where the genre took a turn for a thicker, darker sound. They’re a band who probably gets more out of Gang of Four’s Songs of the Free than they do Entertainment!

Sporting members of Cleveland greats Homostupids and 9 Shocks Terror, Pleasure Leftists crank out icy post-punk tapped from the veins of The Cure’s Faith and Echo & the Bunnymen’s Heaven Up Here. At the forefront of that sound are the smoky and forceful vocals of Haley Morris. Her voice coasts over the gothic-tinged, but speedy instrumentals supplied by the rest of the band. What little synth waves this album has are not really needed, as her voice unloads plenty of atmosphere on its own.

Morris' vocals are definitely the main weapon in the band's arsenal. The music itself is adeptly performed, but there comes a point where the rolling guitar lines and airy bass lines get old. Penultimate track "Burning Down" is the sound of a band collectively shrugging their shoulders due to lack of ideas. The song is purely a repetition of previously executed musical dynamics, only this time they're slowed down to a crawl and less effective. One can imagine the disappointment felt when an album like this starts off strongly before simply fading away into background noise. Opener "Cannon" shows promise, sounding like it could soundtrack a Miami Vice car chase (less of an insult that than you might assume). Album highlight "You You" packs an soaring and expressive punch, with the band locking in and firing on all cylinders. The band seems to think that these two modes are enough to warrant a full album, since they bounce back and forth between the two until the backside of the album congeals into a dull blur.

Pleasure Leftists are a band with promise, there's no doubting that. They've got a great vocalist and seasoned musicians behind their instruments. All they have to do it figure out how to properly utilize their skill set and sharpen their songwriting.

You can check out the record here.