Fredrik Ball grew up in his own city. Really; Fredrikstad, his south-east Norwegian hometown, actually translates Fredopolis. This might suggest that Fred would grow up to be a brawly overconfident one. But no, he is the humblest pop guru around. Humble because he is a nice fellow, pop guru because he moved to London as soon as he was able, i.e. after high school, and started making music and talking to people and being nice and being liked and being very clever and good at making pop. And then he called himself Pleasure and released his first, eponymous, record two years ago.
On his debut Fredrik Ball presented us with a kind of pleasure that was VIP-ish and green-roomy in nature; of tennis courts, 80s visors and jaguars, but cool clubby and fresh as snow-cone champagne. There was funk, disco and acutely strong melodies; the latter of that truly British 80s pop calibre, which means you can loose yourself to blasé enjoyment; the melody will catch you despite your lack of interest.
A team of famed names were at large, drafted by Fred by way of his to-the-point likeability and his stark talent. Dr. Fink, Prince’s sythesizeur added funk, (Pleasure is a big Prince fan) and others, like Ed Harcourt and Justine Frischmann added breeze and the right dosage -just a subtle nuance- of their personal, and recognizable, imprint.
British media, and the witful gaugers of the zeitgeist, pronounced Pleasure one of the freshest new acts of the year, brilliant reviews and lots of airtime ensued.
By 2007 the meaning of pleasure has shifted a little. On his second release, Pleasure 2, Fredrik seems to have reinterpreted the concept and moved slightly to the right; towards the delights of serenity. It is a more refrained pleasure than before, maybe jaded, perhaps reconciled, as if a drop of absinth has been added to the cocktail, and the funky stirring straw has been removed. The roster of famous names is also reduced to Pleasure’s friend ex-suede Brett Anderson who sings on the haunting first single from P2, “Back to you”
The album was released in Norway a week ago and in the meantime Fred has played by:Larm and featured everywhere in the media, more modestly likable than ever, something we appreciate up here; a Norwegian lad who works with the stars but makes it seem the most everyday thing in the world.
The reviews have been positive albeit mixed. All agree that Pleasure brings across something quite out of the ordinary in terms of pop craftsmanship; melody, production, subtle nuances and references, and most of all perhaps the sheer professionalism that permeates anything associated with his name. However, some seem disappointed that he has tuned down some of the funk and snap, and approached quieter more languid realms. But insofar as Pleasure has discovered new content to the notion of enjoyment, this will not worry him, for it is surely a conscious choice.
And the real test for Fred, London based for ten years, is the impending British release. As mentioned, the last time his name was painted in huge neon glow stick strokes on the pop firmament. Will fireworks now follow?