If you’re looking for a chance to giggle while dancing barefoot on the beach in your mind, the NYC-based loungecore duo Pleasure Island is for you! And what is this loungecore you might ask? A blend of bossa nova, disco, and pop with very funny lyrics by singer/guitarist Dave Hadden (aka “Uncle Dave”) who croons in a smooth schmoozy baritone while Scott Chasse holds down the grooves on bass. Together (with a rotating cast of other musicians) they will take you on the Piña Colada party that is Pleasure Island.
Their newest EP, Faux Porteño, moves the fun to Buenos Aires, Argentina; a “Porteño” is slang for a person from Buenos Aires. “Uncle Dave” spent last winter in the Argentinian capital city and used the local environs there as a muse. In the duo’s own words: “the result is a blend of genres, languages, and collaborations with local musicians, continuing Pleasure Island’s trademark ‘surf-deprecating loungecore.’”
Pleasure Island (photo by Michelle LoBianco)
The opening track, “Imagination,” features Buenos Aires bandoneonist, Santi Villar. (If you’re not in the know, a bandoneon is an accordion used in Argentinian tango music.) Hadden’s lyrics speak in the voice of a man who is “in love again, at least in (his) imagination.” As Uncle Dave takes us on romantic flights of fancy, Villar’s improvised bandoneon lines flutter around the sung melody, just as flirtatious as these dreams of a perfect love. Unfortunately, nothing is that perfect. At the song’s end, Hadden asks, “is that the sound of birds around us or the ring of my alarm,” and then the beautiful dream is over.
But no, wait, the romance continues at the ultimate beach shindig in the second track, “Kokomo 2.” The song opens with a “Rio”-esque (think Duran Duran) lady laugh over glittering synths as the dance beats kick in. Chasse’s exceedingly groove-a-licious bass line here will immediately get you shaking your thing at this Kokomo party, “getting a cutie in your hands.” Hadden, of course, never takes the seduction too seriously with chuckle-worthy lyrics like “I hate chores, so I got a divorce. I wanted more than Zsa Zsa Gabor. My future’s waiting for me at the shore.” The song also has a technicolor psychedelic video that captures all that Kokomo magic with Uncle Dave floating around with his guitar or swimming through color waves of bright orange flowers.
The self-deprecation in the “surf-deprecation” comes through most strongly in the EP’s third song, “Muscles & Money.” This is when that Kokomo party goes wrong and none of those cuties will get in Uncle Dave’s hands. The bossa nova grooves are enticing everyone to dance, but Hadden is experiencing a social face plant: “I’m standing at this party and no one’s talking to me,” he sings, “I need more muscles and money / nobody cares that you’re funny / how ‘bout a face with a little more symmetry?” The lyrics here are again hilarious, but also a pretty damn real take on how the beach party scene can get superficial mighty quick.
Faux Porteño’s fourth and final track, “Intentaré,” is Pleasure Island’s first song with lyrics in Spanish. Hadden took on the challenge of writing lyrics in Spanish for the first time with his expected jocular moxie: “A new language offers a chance to rhyme new ideas. For instance, in Spanish, I can now rhyme ‘big mouth’ with ‘no wedding.’ ‘Integrate mejorar’ translates to ‘I will try to improve.’” This last song shimmies away with a lovely lilting guitar line, and will leave you wanting to listen to Faux Porteño again and again, rocking that coconut rum vibe and laughing at how silly we all are.
Faux Porteño was self released and is available now via all major streamers.