"Pleasure One" - reviewed by Andy Gill
It's pretty much the same formula as before on Heaven 17's fourth album: lissome white disco constructions conveying a rather smug acceptance of the more trying aspects of technologised society-plus, of course, the requisite complement of modern love songs.
The single Contenders, which opens the LP, launches instantly into a kind of unfocused breast-beating: exactly what is it that Heaven 17 are contenders at (or in)? We're never told, just bragged at rap-fashion for a few minutes. Sadly, this is one of the album's two highlights.
Heaven 17 were always better in theory than in practice, and Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh always more comfortable when duplicating another producer's style-eg, their excellent take on Willie Mitchell for Tina Turner's Let's Stay Together-than devising their own. On Pleasure One, they simply don't seem able to organise their rhythms effectively. All the beats are in the right places, precise and mathematical, but there's no sense of depth applied to them, no big bass oomph to push your feet around the floor.
This rather anaemic approach to beaty matters extends to other areas too, especially to the horn arrangements, which are mosquitoid at the best of times and at their worst (on the track Low Society) sound as though they're being played on comb and paper.
The best thing about Pleasure One, ultimately, is Tim Cansfield's guitar-playing, an exhilarating rush of clipped funk-guitar chording in the style of Nile Rodgers. Apart from Cansfield's contributions, however, there's very little here to brighten up a wet weekend, save maybe the track Trouble, their best shot in a long time, and an obvious choice for follow-up to Contenders. But hardly enough to make you fork out for an entire album.
Rating : 2