It’s the first warm day of the year. Early March, and it’s sixty-five and sunny. The Snow Miser has relinquished his hold on the northern hemisphere for a day, and for once, I don’t have to sacrifice the nice shoes I wanted to wear for fear of ice patches.
The deck chairs are out on campus, people are walking their dogs, and I’m lounging. The oppressive nature of winter is finally peeling away like a spent sheet mask, and with it, comes the riotous, dissonant sound of Pleasure Vision.
With its striking instrumentals and Rorschach-blot cover, the new album from Bacchae (pronounced bock-eye) howls in with none of the grace of a sunny day and all the rage of its riot grrrl predecessors. It’s hot coffee in my veins on the one day I don’t feel the need to drink it, spouting a certain amount of aggressive ardor that reminds me of the days when I first discovered X-Ray Spex as a baby punk. The temperature outside is warm, but my heart is still cold, and this album is a defibrillator that cracks away all the ice leftover from a tough, Dyatlov-esque winter.
Pleasure Vision brings a lot to contend with, not caring that I’ve got work to finish or a cat to remember to feed. It’s all-consuming, loud enough in my headphones that the girl studying next to me can hear its guitar riffs and glares at me like I just dumped my water on her chemistry notes. But it’s also something else. Sandpaper guitar lines back words that wake my heart after a long winter: “I can’t even keep a promise / How do people fall in love?” It’s a fair question to beg, and not one that’s asked nearly enough.
The sun beats down on my back as Katie McD’s words beat into my head, my decision to wear a polyester top quickly becoming a choice I’m regretting as both start to make me sweat. Bacchae’s energy is ceaseless, a hurricane that drags me along whether I like it or not. Everything else is tangential except for the music, digging its way into my skin, a tattoo I hadn’t realized I’d agreed to.
“Pleasure Vision brings a lot to contend with, not caring that I’ve got work to finish or a cat to remember to feed.”
It competes with the other punks vying for parts of my soul – Siouxsie Sioux, Poly Styrene, all the women and men who drew me down the path to Pleasure Vision in the first place. But Bacchae squeezes their way in there, somewhere between Joey Ramone and that one Adam Ant album that only fifty percent of people count as actual punk.
Their music sticks in my mind, so much that I’ve got “Hammer” on repeat as I turn in for the night, its persistent optimism in the face of negativity nourishing me as much as the water bottle I’ve just finished. So much that I don’t even realize I’ve left my keys in my room, effectively locking myself out of the building. Oops.