Half-ironically billed as an album that “everyone on earth will love,” a whole fucking lifetime of this is certainly diverse. Whilst its runtime just nudges its nose past the half hour mark, Sam Ray and his newly (and more appropriately) re-christened band, present the listener with a veritable genre smorgasbord. Touching on everything from 90s muted indie-rock to 90s trip-hop to 90s jungle (wtf?) to, erm, 90s TV theme tune pastiches, American Pleasure Club’s debut(/third?) album could well be, sonically at least, a concept album about nostalgia for the mid-nineties, albeit through a heavy filter of post-millenium, bandcamp-typical tape-hiss. There’s a risk that such eager genre-hopping could result in an incoherent listening experience. And yes, upon first listen, the switchups can be jarring. However, stick with it, and repeated listens reveal that an emotional through-line binds the songs together, more or less satisfactorily.

The album opens with ‘florida (voicemail)’, immediately recalling the severely lo-fi aesthetic of Teen Suicide’s 2011-12 output in its first few seconds, before opening up into a cleanly-produced, tender, finger-plucked, acoustic ballad that’s really little more than a sketch (the first verse and chorus of what Ray has revealed was once a much longer, and more tedious, Johnny Cash-inspired, "outlaw country" song). Ray and his acoustic guitar provide a whole fucking lifetime of this with some of its rawest, most emotionally affecting moments. Third track, ‘all the lonely nights of your life,’ is a heavily Elliott Smith-indebted number that is by far and away, the prettiest song that Ray’s band has ever released. It’s also heartbreaking. “Somebody loves you,” Ray sings mournfully, looking in from the outside, torn apart by unrequited love. “It’s been that way for a year or two.” Ray has always dealt in depressive imagery (his band’s debut compilation album was called Bad Vibes Forever after all), but “all the lonely nights of your life piled up to block the sun” probably represents the apotheosis of that mode.

On the back half of the album, ‘before my telephone rings’ and closer, ‘the sun was in my eyes’ reveal Ray’s gift for melody and arrangement, whilst also developing one of the album’s central themes: the trials and tribulations of loving someone when one or both of you have a substance addiction. That first song’s final lines reference the fear that one’s partner has succumbed to an overdose: “Come back to life/Before my telephone rings,” and ‘the sun was in my eyes’ presents getting spaced out on the couch and strung out for weeks together as ways of coping with loss. The song, and album as a whole, ends, appropriately, on an extended coda of hazey, countrified electric guitar that is gradually enveloped in a wash of buzzing, zonked-out synths.

The spectre of drug addiction hangs heavy over a whole fucking lifetime of this. On the first of album’s “rock” songs, ‘this is heaven and i’d die for it’, continually getting stoned stops you from ever feeling sad, cocaine is procured whilst in a state of bliss, and, well, the song’s titular phrase tells you just about all you need to know. But, it comes at a cost: you sob on the way to the bar, hold your head in your hands, ache when you try to quit and, in the end, you’re “down for the count.” Ray and his band manage to nail that simultaneously triumphant and melancholic vibe of 90s alt-rock, which suits the conflict at the heart of the subject matter perfectly. ‘there was a time when I needed it’ sets intertwining guitar leads and vocal lines to an insistently upbeat drum machine pattern. These aptly convey the anxiety that comes with choosing to quit opiates, with the full, uncomfortable knowledge of the pain that the process of going cold turkey will entail. The key here though, is that Ray isn’t going through this alone. “I just need you here/I need you to stay/If you don’t mind...Maybe we can go out/Maybe for a couple hours/Tonight,” he pleads, tentatively reaching out for a connection and a sense of normality, although there’s also the subtext that going out means falling off the wagon again. On ‘new year’s eve,’ Ray protests that he doesn’t want to go out at all, and yet the track itself, a 2-minute, barnstorming rocker replete with a trilling, finger-tapped guitar solo, is the liveliest moment on the record, suggestive of the party that Ray wants to avoid. It kind of makes you wish more of the record was dedicated to this sound, as American Pleasure Club pull it off so well.

In fact, half of the album’s tracks aren’t “rock” music at all. This isn’t without precedent in the Teen Suicide back catalogue, of course. They were releasing bedroom synth-pop numbers like ‘haunt me (x3)’ back in 2012, and ‘Wild Things Run Free’ and ‘My Little World’ off 2016's It's The Big Joyous Celebration, Let's Stir The Honeypot. On a whole fucking lifetime of this, American Pleasure Club place a greater emphasis than ever before on samples, electronic beats and manipulated vocals. They fully utilise the production chops of Ray’s longtime friend and bandmate, Sean Mercer, as well as Ray’s own, honed with his Ricky Eat Acid project. And yet, they manage to ensure that the compositions are of an emotional piece with the guitar-driven tracks. A jazzy trip-hop loop, built on a vocal sample that’s been manipulated to sound like horns, recalls, erm, Morcheeba of all people, and yet provides an appropriately druggy atmosphere for ‘sycamore,’ a song about the sensory pleasure of taking drugs, and the absent-minded boredom/anxiety of waiting for your dealer in a parking lot. The Aaliyah-sampling opening 17 seconds of ‘let’s move to the desert’ are a wonderfully incongruous moment of bright, soulful pop. The rest of the song slows down a sample of Frank Ocean performing the very same song as Aaliyah, using it as a backing loop to somehow create a funereal, Majical Cloudz-esque synth ballad. It’s absolutely staggering in its fragile beauty and is the clear standout of the album. The band mine a similar vibe on ‘seemed like the whole world was lost’ to slightly lesser effect, although the Hank Williams sample and the horns are deft touches. These two songs are both unabashedly romantic, even if Ray suffers a nose bleed and collapses in the bread aisle on ‘whole world was lost.’ Speaking of romance, ‘eating cherries’ is an arrestingly beautiful, auto-tuned love letter to Ray’s wife, Kathryn-Leigh, by way of a Badalamenti-esque piano ballad that gradually gets engulfed in spectral synths and midi-strings. It again demonstrates Ray and Mercer’s gift for crafting songs that are meticulously produced yet feel raw and lived in. In fact, throughout the album, tape manipulation features heavily and there are countless little sonic details that make repeat listens so rewarding.

The one misstep on a whole fucking lifetime of this is the appropriately named, ‘just a mistake.’ Whilst it’s certainly a very Sam Ray move to brutally break off a gentle acoustic ballad like ‘before my telephone rings’ with a 180 bpm jungle beat, the end result, which pairs the unfortunately dated-sounding drum pattern with a somewhat overwrought, spaced-out, synth-pop dirge, doesn’t quite work out in execution. Ray’s willingness to experiment is, nevertheless, admirable and commendable. There are moments and songs on a whole fucking lifetime of this which sound unlike anyone else. It’s a deliberately messy album. After all, it’s all about messy emotions and situations. And that’s always been the central appeal of Teen Suicide: the relatability of Ray’s writing, his emotional candidness, his willingness to bare himself, good side and bad. While American Pleasure Club don’t often sound like Teen Suicide used to, that has remained a constant. As the next step in the evolution of Sam Ray as an artist, the album is immensely promising. We’ve got a whole fucking lifetime of this to look forward to.