Pleasureland is the latest release from HALEY (FKA Haley Bonar). Better known for her vocal driven indie rock, Pleasureland sees HALEY break new creative ground with an instrumental album of 12 tracks. The album is both frantic and placid, uplifting and heartbreaking, and takes the listener on a journey through different sounds and textures. Pleasureland is not a throw away pop album with three hits and nine fillers, rather a work soaked in artistic integrity and emotion. It is an album to be consumed the old fashioned way – no shuffling or skipping tracks, just sitting back, pressing play and allowing the music to wash over you.
The listener’s attention is grasped immediately with the frenzied synth sounds of introductory track, ‘Credit Forever Part 1’. The listener is played in urgently as the track builds into a crescendo before evaporating and giving way to the next song. The placid sounds of ‘Give Yourself Away’ pour in; a heartbreakingly beautiful piece. Synth sounds from the opening track make a cameo half way through to nuance the piano melody. The track descends into a desolate atmosphere and fades into an ominous reverb soaked soundscape before cutting off abruptly.
‘Future Maps’ begins and sees the first introduction of twanging guitar sounds over a muted piano part. Follow up track ‘Syrup’ goes one step further adding distortion. After making its presence known, ‘Syrup’ evolves with varied playing styles, guitars pick and chugg, all the while making use of feedback, distortion and reverb to create a loud yet ethereal soundscape.
‘Credit Forever Part 2’ sees the return of the piano as lead instrument with a more subdued guitar accompaniment that hangs in the background. The instruments go between dueting in parts to a call and response in others. The instruments have their own individual melodies but also intertwine to bring the track to life.
‘Double Dutchess’ offers a slightly livelier and upbeat solo piano until it grows darker with the appearance of an underlying drone and a smattering of feedback. The track becomes increasingly dramatic before returning to its upbeat beginnings however, it brings the new instrumentation along to carry through the tainted ambiance.
‘Infinite Pleasure Part 2’ poses an indie rock feel, harking back to HALEY’s previous work. The track sees a crescendo of guitars, bass and synths, the building blocks of the inevitable wall of sound that is created. Eventually it’s dismantled with a beautiful piano melody rising from the rubble, some feedback lingers to dance around the penultimate track ‘Lonely As A Mother’ and is softened by singing string parts. The album ends on a serene note with ‘Snake Moon’ enveloping the listener in a baroque inspired melody that gently eases out.
The album travels through an array of different emotions with ease and at no cost to the overall feel. The tracks blend well together and provide a pleasurable listen for a sun drenched autumn morning.
Listen to Pleasureland below.
Featured image by Colin Michael Simmons.
Words: Sinéad Furlong