Seksu Roba – Pleasure Vibrations

Seksu Roba
Pleasure Vibrations

Image-obsessed indie-rock bands have always been troublesome to me, though not because of the “purity of art” argument that gets tossed off so often. You see, Britney Spears can make herself a whole boatload of cash by slutting it up, and Evanescence can drastically increase its fan base by dressing goth and playing Cure. You could even argue that The Strokes and Interpol have something to gain from their respective fashion agendas. But what’s the motivation for an underground artist? Even discarding the effect it can have on your art, it doesn’t seem practical. Does an underground band really boost their sales/fanbase by dressing in retro threads? Sure you could argue the fun/atmosphere album during a live show, but what’s the expected gain of laying the retro on so thick that it’s damn-near distracting? Ten thousand albums sold instead of 9,000?
So it goes with Seksu Roba and its latest LP, Pleasure Vibrations. The cover art is ridiculous as it is: blotched, bright colors, and a decidedly retro-futurist look immediately convey the band’s leanings. The back cover (a topless woman playing guitar and a headphone-wielding space asshole) and pictures on the band’s website relay something far more alarming: Seksu Roba is hopelessly devoted to fashion and image. The duo, vocalist/designer Lun’na Menoh and producer/keyboardist Sukho Lee, warps lounge-pop into neon disco beats, electronic squiggles, and programmed beats.
The results are predictable: Pleasure Vibrations is a monotonous, regressive album that does little to dissuade the notion that this is more a fashion project than a band. The beats on any of the songs are practically interchangeable: they all float around quick tempos and layer theremins and a zillion other fabricated sounds on until the arrangements are un-penetrable. The vocals, despite multiple guest spots, all aim for a sensuous, dance-party vibe that is both grating and poorly-executed. Any sincerity in the vocals – and there is none – is sterilized immediately by the cheesy disco cuts.
There are a couple of standout tracks, but not in a good way. “LA Freeway” is particularly insidious, if only because its monotonous chanting of its title is the only moment on the album that sticks in your head long enough to truly anger. The whining keyboards of “Erotico” are cringe-worthy, and the stuttering tremolo effect on “The Night is Mine” is aggravatingly predictable. The My Bloody Valentine cover that appears towards the end of the album, “Moon Song,” proves the band may have good taste, but throwing an obscure re-hash onto the end of an album like this reeks of elitism.
Pleasure Vibrations is an album utterly bereft of any original ideas. The arrangements are too thick, the vocals too listless, and the feel too forced. It’s unclear where the band’s image is getting it, but let’s hope that it can take the duo somewhere better than this music.