Pleasure Craft, the moniker of Toronto singer-songwriter and producer Sam Lewis, is the avenue through which he revels in the glossy pop theatrics of the ‘80s — bass lines shake and throb while his voice wanders through a landscape of gloriously fractured melodies and hypnotic rhythms. There’s also an almost post-punkish undercurrent of volatility which fuels the cathartic movements inherent to his work.
Oddly enough, becoming a musician was not what interested Lewis when he was younger, as he hoped to become a pilot. However, after a stint living in Malaysia when he was 18, he discovered a love for music and moved back home to study jazz trumpet. Lewis shared his debut, “EP1,” as Pleasure Craft in October of 2018, and its mix of alt-pop strangeness and candid narration made it as spellbinding as it was voyeuristic. This record documented his move from Saltspring Island in British Columbia to Toronto, which resulted in him creating a completely new identify with which to establish his musical presence. He is currently gearing up for the release of “EP2,” which is due out sometime later this year.
With “Work It Out,” he channels the wobbly rhythms of The Human League and Ultravox, building a compelling ‘80s pop aesthetic that feels immediately familiar but also alien in its execution. Various sounds scatter somewhere in the background as he compiles this noisy pop miasma alongside friend and vocalist Mingjia, whose voice provides a disorienting and welcome counterpoint to Lewis. There’s also something slightly unnerving about the song, a feeling that there are things hidden away in its depths, things that dance around your periphery without fully revealing themselves.
“Work It Out” was written very quickly as an expression of anxiety which I associate with emotional suppression,” Lewis explains. “I’ve always felt pressure to avoid sincerity and vulnerability. I think a lot of people feel this, but everything gets expressed somehow.”