Bacchae - Pleasure Vision (Cover Artwork)


Pleasure Vision (2020)

Get Better Records

The immediacy of opening track “Leave Town” only hints at what’s to come as it barrels towards your eardrums. The bass guitar drives paranoia in 80s punk charm as staccato down stroked guitars and wayward whaling deliver the anxiety. Keyboardist and singer Katie McD matches the tone in delivery with help from bassist and vocalist Rena Hagins as they sing about the feeling of displacement in your own neighborhood. Only once does the pace let up for a huge unexpected midsong and half tempo breakdown landing back shortly thereafter in the disaffection of the verse. It’s the theatrics and trajectory of songs like this that make Bacchae’s Pleasure Vision a captivating listen.

The DC-based four piece rounded out by Eileen O’Grady on drums and Andrew Breiner on guitar continue down their 80s inspired punk path on “Stop Looking,” but it’s the album’s third track “Hammer” that begins to show the depth of the band. Bacchae brings in influences across the post-alternative scene. Art rock, post-punk, new wave, and pop all shine through in Pleasure Vision. “Open Wound” starts with riffs that could have come from Ric Ocasek’s guitar. “Everything Ugly” drips with modern indie-pop charm.

There’s an entry point for anybody who is interested in the above paragraph’s mess of genre descriptions. What makes Pleasure Vision unique is each one of them succeeds. The aforementioned “Hammer” shows off Bacchae’s sense of melodicism and ability to capture a listener. McD lets the vocals breathe as she sings, “I took a hammer / I brought it done / I took a scalpel to my heart and turned it inside out.” The intersection of rhythm and keys come together on “Turns Me” as a wandering baseline with dance floor ambition.

The lyrics are also a topline across Pleasure Vision oscillating between biting social commentary and pointed self-reflection. The pressures of modern day society weigh heavy on its authors. “Older I Get” announces “I’m tired of being young” before launching into the infirmary adulthood brings, “You’re building up a house / You’re locking us inside ./ You light the fire, dusk till dawn / You burn as it you go along.” A similar societal pressure is felt on “Life Online” with the guilt digital consumerism brings. The youthful regret found in “Older I Get” is experienced as the loss of youthful regret in the lines, “I made a long of the people I had fucked / Pathetically / I whispered to myself / This isn’t long enough” on “Everything Ugly.”

The best thing about Pleasure Vision is it’s likely only a hint of what’s to come for Bacchae. It shows noticeable growth from their previous releases and feels like a band setting a foundation. Not many foundations are built this strong.