Andrew Rothbard. Josh Hughes. David Clifford. Two-thirds of this San Francisco-based trio initially impacted independent music as The VSS in 1995. With one full-length (“Nervous Circuits”) and a handful of singles, split albums, etc., The VSS were part of an early wave of keyboard-heavy art rock. Theirs was music for kids who liked Joy Division and Gang of Four, but never really went goth. After an abrupt split in 1997, The VSS reformed as Slaves, an equally dark experience in rock music. Which bring us to Pleasure Forever, the trio’s most recent moniker, and its self-titled, Sub Pop debut. From the heavy swirl of keyboards that mark “Goodnight,” Pleasure Forever opens like some Baz Luhrmann fantasy of 1920’s Berlin invaded by the Birthday Party with Ray Manzarak on keyboards. As the album progresses, Pleasure Forever’s post-punk cabaret swells to fierce proportions, marked by the industrial-tinged chant of “rise, rise, rise” on “Meet Me in Eternity,” before moving towards a more guitar-driven path. With the album’s eight minute, forty-two second climax, “Magnus Opus,” Pleasure Forever channels the spirits of rock music’s darkest spirits from Black Sabbath to Bauhaus without ever really sounding like anyone other than Pleasure Forever.
–liz (Sub Pop)