The dichotomy between the two is an essential part of that makes the record a success. Lowe is the songwriter, and a strong one at that, witty, incisive, and economical both lyrically and instrumentally. Edmunds is the historian, cherry picking deep cuts from rock and roll’s past. The record is split between the two of them, and the band helps bridge the gap between them with their brilliant playing, treating rock and roll and punk as if they were cut from the same cloth (which they are anyway).
Nick Lowe’s material on Seconds of Pleasure is some of his finest. “Now And Always” plays like a Buddy Holly tune, with jangling guitars and great dual harmonies from Lowe and Edmunds. However, Buddy Holly never sang about how “I close my eyes and count to ten, and wonder why I just don’t pack it in.” Suicide, in other words. This is one of Lowe’s great talents as a songwriter, couching bitter, sarcastic lyrics in sugar coated melodies that makes everything go down easier. Elsewhere, “When I Write The Book” tells the tale of an aging bachelor who is losing his game, set to a book metaphor that his protégé Elvis Costello would later borrow for his own hit “Everyday I Write The Book.” “Heart” is another highlight, this time sung by Billy Bremner, who holds his own vocally on this bouncy pop tune, while also laying down an excellent guitar solo drenched in Sun Records reverb.
Dave Edmunds, meanwhile, mines the past and comes up aces with his choices. “If Sugar Was As Sweet As You,” originally by soul singer Joe Tex, is given a new wave sheen here, charging forward on endless momentum propelled by Terry Williams’ steady backbeat. He also provides Kip Anderson’s “A Knife And A Fork” with an slow burning intensity that belies its comical lyrics (this is perhaps the only song in rock history about obesity). And, on album highlight “Wrong Again (Let’s Face It),” he takes a tune written by contemporaries Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook (of Squeeze fame) and completely makes it Rockpile’s own, strengthening its new wave nerviness with twangy guitars and pop harmonies.
Overall, Seconds of Pleasure stands as a testament to how talents on different wavelengths can come together to create something that highlights their individual qualities while also being a cohesive work that shows their strengths as a band. However, having two such talents, and egos, led to internal tensions that resulted in Rockpile’s demise shortly after the release of this album. But Seconds of Pleasure, along with Lowe’s and Edmunds’ contemporary solo releases, showcase a band that really could have become one of the greats had it lasted.