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Noisey

American Pleasure Club Detail 'Fucking Bliss,' a Difficult, Long-Dormant LP

The follow-up to last year's magnificent 'A Whole Fucking Lifetime of This' was recorded in 2015, but remained unreleased. We're premiering the record's first single, "what kind of love?"

by Alex Robert Ross
Jan 24 2019, 5:02pm

American Pleasure Club's second full-length LP, Fucking Bliss, has been sitting dormant for almost four years. Sam Ray wrote and recorded it all over a nine-day stretch in May 2015, in the midst of a "manic, terrified, paranoid burst of energy," but it was consumed by the release of Teen Suicide's cacophonous farewell, It's the Big Joyous Celebration, Let's Stir the Honeypot. "We were a band again, after many years in the wilderness and void—and everyone involved was finally sober, even if the band itself was much more fractured & scattered than before," Ray writes in an email to Noisey. "The 26 songs [on Honeypot] reflected this—an album made by a collective, a lot of friends, instead of a core unit[...] This was not an album to be poured over & dissected for clues following a suicide."

Fucking Bliss was, conversely, more finite and tormented, an album that Ray thought "might better bookend a life of failures & wasted potential, petty incidental rivalries, mistakes, regrets, and on-and-off struggles with drug addiction and intense mental health issues." It pushed into doom metal, warped pop, and ambient drones, with vocals that Ray describes as "manipulated, buried, obscured, affected, or horrifically mangled," burying all easy meaning beneath the mess and swirl of the mix. "The words are deeply obscured in the music, and their meaning, even when read, [are] frustratingly elliptical," he writes. It was a frantic attempt to capture a state of mind, rather than a shot at drawing a narrative arc. It was a record that, at the time, he thought might be his last. He compares it to the French writer Édouard Levé's final book, Suicide.

Years later, Fucking Bliss will make it out into the world. It is, Ray writes, his favorite of his own creations, alongside Ricky Eat Acid's disconcertingly beautiful seeing ghosts everywhere. This was the first record that Ray wrote as American Pleasure Club, long before he finally dropped the Teen Suicide moniker, but it is also a difficult album, one that might have been too jarring as an introduction to APC. (A Whole Fucking LIfetime of This, the project's proper debut, was one of our favorite albums of 2018.) "It would be easy to say that this record took so long to be released because I had to work out so many complicated feelings about it, and it’s certainly true that I have, but the truth is, as always, much more dull," he writes. "It felt too jarring and potentially divisive to do that, and we tried to do something a lot less potentially off-putting, as we hoped to continue to have some kind of career[...] The album fell to the side and as time went by, I came to love it very dearly—not just for what it represented, or anything personal like that, but just because I find it’s a very wonderful record. It feels so genuine and often horrific in a way that I always want my music to be but am often afraid to push towards, or get close enough to."

"what kind of love?," the first single from the record, is premiering below. It's a truly disorienting song, with hypercompressed percussive thuds crashing through the swell of ambience and almost breaking apart into nothing but harsh white noise. Ray's voice is dismembered at the back of the mix, an exhausted groan cut off from the growing chaos. In a separate note to Noisey, Ray writes that the song questions the ethics behind addiction, rather than addiction itself:

"'what kind of love?' is a song about what Gabor Maté referred to as 'the realm of hungry ghosts'. it's a song about being a functioning drug addict, about suffering greatly this way but still existing, sort of—a halfway point between the living & dead—still physically present in this space but when you look at the eyes, there's a kind of tumbling & falling down into a great abyss. however, it's not a song about addiction itself—the drugs and that lifestyle, they're irrelevant to it—instead it's concerned with the sorts of decisions & sacrifices we make to spare the people we love—family, friends, etc—from the knowledge of & exposure to our own suffering, even if that's sort of a zero sum game in the end. the emphasis is on 'functioning'—not 'addict'. and going beyond addiction, it's about the moral & ethical dilemma at the heart of that choice—'do we keep our pain from the ones we love for the sake of their happiness?', versus 'in hiding these fundamental truths about myself & how i feel, am i actually hurting the people i care most about?' to be clear i don't think there is an answer to that, even on a case-by-case basis, there might not be an answer. the song is not about trying to answer that, nor is it even trying to make any progress towards answering that question, because i don't think you can, not properly or completely or satisfactorily—no, the song is the question. the question is the song. the title, "what kind of love?" is both rhetorical and literal, but there's no answer."

Listen to the single below. Fucking Bliss is due out via Run for Cover on March 29. Pre-order the record here. American Pleasure Club are going out on tour with Thursday in mid-February, and you can check out the dates at the foot of the page.

02/15 – Washington, DC @ Union Stage
02/16 – Washington, DC @ Union Stage
02/18 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
02/19 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
02/20 – Orlando, FL @ The Abbey
02/21 – Orlando, FL @ The Abbey
02/22 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ The Culture Room
02/23 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ The Culture Room
02/25 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
02/26 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
02/27 – Columbus, OH @ Skully’s Music Diner
02/28 – Columbus, OH @ Skully’s Music Diner
03/01 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
03/02 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
03/04 – Cleveland, OH @ The Agora
03/05 – Cleveland, OH @ The Agora
03/07 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
03/08 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
03/09 – Boston, MA @ The Middle East
03/10 – Boston, MA @ The Middle East
03/15 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
03/16 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
03/17 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar

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