The “Offensive” new single from Pleasure Island is released this Friday.
Offence is subjective, polarising even! In the middle of a period of mourning for a Royal known for “speaking his mind” and being “playful” in a way that was definitely not racist or sexist (ever!) Liverpool rock n roll duo Pleasure Island release ‘IRA’ in homage to the Queen’s consort’s forthright “comedy”.
What better tribute than a song about the blokes that blew up Old Phillip’s uncle’s boat? It’s fine! It’s just a laugh…right?
Of course, in reality it isn’t! With the spectre of sectarian violence looming large in Northern Ireland once again and ever widening gaps between the elite and everyone else, this is a serious time. It’s hard to avoid the fact that the collective mourning might be for the wrong things!
Not that ‘IRA’ is about any of that! It’s been written for a while. It is the tale of Sean Ekins’ battle with mental illness and him being plagued with hallucinations about being persecuted. In the middle of this ordeal his partner ended the relationship and cut off all contact. The chorus “Since I joined the IRA, you’ve never forgiven me,” is a plea for forgiveness for becoming ill. She was offended by his illness and what it was doing to him!
‘IRA’ is another acerbic swipe at a deep issue, following single’s ‘The Game’ which took aim at toxic masculinity and ‘Help Me NHS’ which again used Ekins’ illness to frame the importance of the National Health Service.
Musically, it is a classic blast of indie-rock, another indie-dancefloor filler waiting to happen. Previous singles have gained fans in the shape of former Everton goalkeeper turned Twitter legend Neville Southall plus press nods from Under The Radar and Louder Than War.
2021 is a big year for Pleasure Island, with their big return to the fold being scuppered by a year of pandemic lockdowns. Formed in Australia by a Liverpudlian ex-pat mine worker, Ekins’s journey began as part of a garage rock three-piece called The Spitfires, based in the world’s most remote city: Perth, Western Australia. Their debut record, Songs From The Debt Generation, instantly set down a style marker: politically-minded tales of modern life set to distortion.
This music gained heavy rotation on RTRFM, 4ZZZ and spot play on FBI, RRR and Triple J with the singles also featuring on national television broadcaster ABC, the band left W.A. to relocate to Sydney.
From there they toured Australia and Japan in support of the album Songs From The Debt Generation, but behind the scenes, things were unravelling; founding bass player Paul Bovenkerk left due to mental health issues, while the band cycled through over thirteen drummers, including two which were recruited from the audience during the same show. Something had to give.
After a much-needed hiatus, the band relaunched as Pleasure Island, and played their first show at the Smithdown Road festival with new drummer Sam Pierpoint. ‘Help Me NHS’ was the next step in their rehabilitation. This is where we are now, a rehabilitated and revitalised Pleasure Island – older, wiser and with more to say.
‘IRA’, produced by Bob Cooper at the Chairworks Studio, is another indication of the band’s bigger sound pushing bigger ideas. After all the turmoil, Pleasure Island is ready to claim their crown as the UK’s most thrilling indie guitar bands.
Try not to be offended, yeah?