everybody, let's twitch!
Some stars shine brightest just before dawn. And like those stars, some musical acts shine brightest just before they disappear. It could be said this was the case with The Pleasures Pale.
Laura Delaney photo
With recording for their debut LP wrapped up in early 1987 and mastering finished in March that year, the Dayton-based band continued with a steady slate of performances throughout southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky. As May arrived, however, so did a significant change. Drummer Jeff Keating left and original drummer Timothy Payton Earick returned. Though the songwriting core of singer/lyricist Jeffrey Bright, guitarist/composer Mitchell Swann and bassist/composer Luis Lerma remained intact, the switch marked a distinct alteration in the band’s sound. Keating’s tight, inventive drumming lent the band a crisp pop vibe. In contrast, Earick’s more kinetic approach gave the new-look Pleasures Pale a looser but heavier sound. Shortly after Earick’s return, envisioning an expanded live presentation, the band began working in two new pieces: Lerma’s brother Terry Lerma on organ and various keyboards and Eric Olt as second guitarist. Excited by their fuller sound and anticipating a quick follow-up EP to the in-production LP, the Pale returned to Refraze Studio to record four more songs. The world seemed full of promise... Until fate so rudely intervened. in October of 1987, with one of the new songs mixed, tracking finished on the other three, and the full-length LP on the way — and with major label attention at the doorstep — the band fractured. What began two years prior and appeared headed for a bigger stage was undone. Viewed across the distance of time, the reasons hardly matter. The LP, recorded mostly in 1986 and entitled The Pleasures Pale!, or simply “!”, was finally released on 12-inch vinyl and cassette by Cincinnati’s Heresy Records in late January 1988 — fully three months after the breakup, delayed by numerous production delays. Aside from a trove of miscellaneous cassette recordings, what remained of The Pleasures Pale sat idle on two-inch magnetic tape in the storage room at Refraze, slowly decomposing. In 2019, as a project of the Jeffrey Alan Bright Music Archive, the 24-track master tapes for the unfinished EP were located and carefully transferred into the digital realm by Gary King, the project’s original engineer, to be further restored, mixed and mastered for both digital and limited edition vinyl release. These four previously unreleased songs reveal the band evolving, reaching for a full, orchestrated sound, poised for broader exposure. At the time of recording, “Only the Rich” and “Not Fey” were newer compositions, hinting at a shift toward an edgier sound and more challenging lyrical themes — misfit revolution and sexual confusion, no less! “Most Precious Things” and “Punishment Place,” on the other hand, were set list standards introduced in the band’s earliest performances, their focus more in line musically and emotionally with the material on the LP, spotlighting Swann and Lerma's uncanny guitar/bass interplay and further carrying a torch for Bright's adventures in male-gender recalibration.
As to what aesthetic territories the band would eventually inhabit, or what musical statements they would go on to make, we can only speculate. (A set of raw demos recorded to cassette in the band’s Third Street rehearsal space that same summer — also queued for restoration and eventual release — may provide clues.) But, for a brief while, from late May through mid October of 1987, The Pleasures Pale were shining their brightest and left us with the four signposts included on Twitch.
Twitch will release on January 7, 2022, available in limited edition clear vinyl and digital download/streaming. Vinyl will be 12" 45 RPM, limited to 25 numbered copies and pre-orders will receive immediate high resolution download of "Only the Rich" and "Most Precious Things." Order on Bandcamp.