The album was the last album-length studio release to feature original guitarist Brian James, who would rejoin the band in the late '80s and early '90s for a live album and studio single. It was also the group's final album release on Stiff Records. It saw the band move into more complex song structures, while maintaining the punk sound of their debut album.
The sleeve was designed by Barney Bubbles (including the cover painting).
At the time of its release, the album was dismissed by critics as a poor misstep.AllMusic's brief retrospective review said simply "Music for Pleasure is not quite as bad as the Nick Mason production would indicate – though close."Trouser Press opined: "With added guitarist Lu Edmonds and no audible stylistic plan, the attack sounds blunted, and there aren't as many great songs as on the first LP. [...] Music for Pleasure doesn't live up to the title."