Artificial Pleasure – ‘The Bitter End’ Review


The Londoners' debut is a deviously inventive exercise in fun, flair and ambition

When four of the Orange Juice-d post-punk/funk band The Night Engine returned reborn with a searing new sound as Artificial Pleasure, hopes were high. Brimming with energy and forcing you onto the dancefloor, this band demanded to be heard. The level of attention that might have been expected hasn’t exactly followed, but their debut album ‘The Bitter End’ is too cocksure to care.

Openers ‘I Need Something More’ and ‘Wound Up Tight’ opt for the LCD Soundsystem blend of future-facing electro-punk, also borrowing from the Euro-future flourishes of David Bowie’s ‘Berlin’ era and the likes of Can. Single ‘All I Got’ sees frontman Phil McDonnell’s yearning but soaring vocals and lyrics perfectly match the runaway train of its backing track. Other highlights include the sultry glam strut of ‘Bolt From The Blue’, the pure ‘Station To Station’ worship of ‘On A Saturday Night’ and the Talking Heads disco anthem of ‘I’ll Make It Worth Your While’. Hedonism aside, the band’s boast their sense of adventure with their surprising, Kraftwerk-inspired sonic landscapes of ‘Basement’ and ‘Stammheim’, along with the hyperactive unrest of ‘People Get Everywhere’.

The hype may have dwindled slightly, but there’s a lot to love here. Like Bowie, Byrne and Bryan Ferry, ‘The Bitter End’ is a joyous blend of art and style. Artificial Pleasure have created a bold statement of intent – a deviously inventive exercise in fun, flair and ambition.