Album review: The Beginning of the End by The Pleasures

When multiple Golden Guitar winner and musical force of nature Catherine Britt joined Golden Guitar winner and exceptional storyteller Lachlan Bryan to form The Pleasures, the chances were very good that the project would produce great music. The chances were also good that expectations were high accordingly. 

When their first single, ‘The Beginning of the End’, was released expectations were definitely met: this was Britt and Bryan at their best, parrying each other with one line, attacking with the other, and using their vocals to do it as much as the lyrics.

Next single ‘Every Story Has Two Sides’ added layers to the story that had begun with that ending-beginning and also made it clear that while the artists were telling us stories about a disintegrating relationship they may just have been having fun doing it, as evidenced by the vim and vigour in their vocals.

The Pleasures’ album, The Beginning of the End, has now been released and it is a break-up album told from two sides by artists who are arguably (and hopefully) just at the start of a long collaboration. And what’s on that album is the other parts of the stories of the protagonists from those early songs. 

In the songs on this album there is nuance, and care, and regret. There is swirling and snarling, distrust and disappointment, poignancy and pain. There’s also the strident commitment to the protagonists’ separate versions of events. And there’s heartbreak too, nowhere more clear than in Britt’s vocal in the first verse of ‘Sad Song’ then matched by Bryan’s as that song goes on.

What is also clear on this album is that the excellence of it – the quality that is in every note and lyric and tone of voice – can only be achieved by artists who are meeting as equals. If either Britt or Bryan had been at a different stage of their life and career to the other – if they hadn’t written as many songs, tested themselves as many times in front of live audiences, gone to the well and come back empty the way so many artists must do over the course of creation – there might be power in some of these songs but not others, and the sum of the parts may not be as mighty. 

It is to the great benefit of the audience that these two not only decided to work together but to do it at this stage. And, oh, it is so much fun listening to Britt and Bryan be so very good at what they do. Excellence in artistry is the ultimate treat for anyone who believes in the power of art and the good it can do in the world. This album is excellent, and it is a total treat. 

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Listen to The Beginning of the End on Apple Music

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