Don’t go calling Ghostbusters when there are Homewreckers and Mutual Friends to help you.
Formed in 2021, The Pleasures are fronted by Australian country music icon Catherine Britt who has an established, well-decorated, musical background. With the majority of the songs on this, The Pleasures’ debut album ‘The Beginning of The End‘ written by Britt and her bandmate, equally well-seasoned musician Lachlan Bryan, their sound has been described as “raucous, dirty and blues-inspired (occasionally interrupted by delicate moments of sublime country-folk), whilst their subject matter leaps from bold and bawdy to heartfelt and insightful”. Each song is most definitely a performance in itself with Britt and Bryan duetting well together and creating musical-theatre-like imagery. Much like in the way that Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out of Hell‘ does, although not always with such an overall dramatic effect.
Opening very much on the front foot with the title track, ‘The Beginning of the End‘ is a bold, raw account of a brief, disastrous relationship. Here Britt demonstrates her powerhouse of a vocal which is underpinned by Bryan’s measured accompaniment.
‘Homewreckers‘ follows with an interesting, if not rather monotonous Ghostbusters-style tale the writers describe as solving a common problem. That problem being the need to extricate yourself from a relationship, but you haven’t got the guts so “He called the homewreckers… We’re your easy way out, won’t leave a trace of doubt… someone else to blame takes away a world of shame…” Not the usual subject matter for a song or perhaps an ethical business plan, but entertaining in its own way.
In the call and response tale of scorned lovers Britt describes as being inspired by recent life events, ‘Every Story Has Two Sides‘, builds into a dramatic quarrel, perfect for a stage production. Following in a similar mode with ‘You Made Another Woman (Out of Me)‘ Britt exposes her deep Dolly Parton influence. Nicely played, the song is about the hardship of adult life. ‘Mutual Friends‘ is, according to Britt, “another one pulled from the divorce and chaos trenches”. She goes on to say how, based on the many breakups both she and Bryan have each been through, it is written very much from experience. This song particularly focuses on the breakup dilemma for ‘Mutual Friends‘ stuck in the middle of two sides to a story. Another interesting subject is delivered with a stark reality and a resigned quality.
‘Paranoid‘ is just that. A pacy, wordy, frenetic run down on all things perceived to be rumoured about oneself with a big sound to go with it. Calming things right down, ‘Sad Song‘ is a highlight of the album. A beautifully performed, poignant and poetic song that will resonate with anyone mourning love. The gentle musicality and serene yet passionate blend of Britt & Bryan’s vocals is very moving. Phrases like “melodies for love gone wrong” and “our love will last the test of time, Cos I wrote it down in rhyme” are charming and comforting.
Notching things back up with their interpretation of the Chester Burnett (AKA Howlin’ Wolf) and Willie Dixon song ‘Howlin’ for My Darlin’‘ the duo give some groovy, ballsy treatment to the early 1960s original release. With a pulsating, bluesy beat and bold musical interludes, Britt in particular flexes her wide-ranging vocals to great effect.
‘Three Star Hotel‘ follows with a far-out, slow, seductive feel to it. And that’s not by accident as Bryan recounts “Isn’t it romantic though? You and your gal/fella in cheap digs… I’ve had some of my best nights in those places, feeling like Bonnie and Clyde…knowing you’re going to part ways somewhere down the road, but not just yet…”
‘I Fell For It‘ is, in Britt’s words, “the harrowing tale of the bullshitter”. With its honky-tonk, tongue-in-cheek feel, it is an open, honest account of how easy it is to be taken in. “That snake-eyed charm and that easy sing-along, that come-hither baby with a little touch of wrong. Oh I fell for it and I swore I’d never do that shit” Whilst the song has an easy feel, it has a strong underlying message.
The album closes with a profoundly moving interpretation, this time of the Troy Seals and Eddie Setser song ‘Seven Spanish Angels‘. The story takes us into the world of an outlaw and his lover and is a saga filled with love, heartache and the pursuit of something greater. The seven Spanish angels referred to give a sense of ethereal intervention whilst the imagery of battle ceasing and smoke clearing creates a powerful scene of divine reckoning. Ultimately it is a tragic tale that musically and lyrically captures the very essence of our emotions and our desire to love. Ray Charles and Willie Nelson do a moving version of this song too but, without a doubt, The Pleasures make this a stunning ending to an interesting album.