Swedish duo, Pleasurekraft are perhaps best known for their 2010 single, “Tarantula.” The track mixed tech-house with robotic vocals similar to the Beastie Boys‘ “Intergalactic.” Supported by DJs like Swedish House Mafia and Axwell, the single is still largely thought of as the producers’ defining work. Eight years after its release, Pleasurekraft release their debut album, Friends, Lovers, & Other Constellations.
Album opener “Interiors” starts with birds chirping and a reverbed woman’s voice saying “my paralysis set in a year ago.” It’s not a cheerful album beginning by any means. As the song develops, it turns into a synth-pop track free from the uhn-tiss rhythm that defines most of the album. It sounds almost M83-like with its bouncing synth bass and driving rhythm.
After “Interiors,” the rest of the album is an exploration on how many variations on an uhn-tiss-uhn-tiss-uhn-tiss beat can be made. “Rigel” is just over 8-minutes with the first three-and-a-half minutes being just drums then there is a break down with a subdued four note melody which rides out for the rest of the track. There are other little synth flourishes to keep “Rigel” feeling not quite so repetitive but this pattern is seen song after song on Friends, Lovers, & Other Constellations.
Because eight of the eleven tracks on the album essentially have the same beat with some minor variations, it is easy to get lost not knowing where one song ends and another begins. With no strong melodies, the only way to tell tracks apart are those with sound clips in them versus those that don’t. It creates an album that when the focal point is a bit grey. If you are a college student who just needs something in the background with a driving rhythm but is ultimately ignorable in order to write a paper, Pleasurekraft’s debut should be useful but Friends, Lovers, & Other Constellations delivers too much sameness to be an album you would want to sit down and listen to.