Porridge Radio: Every Bad review | Alexis Petridis’s album of the week

The Brighton cliques second book is spiky, unusual and uncompromisingly brilliant. Can they drag the avant garde into the mainstream?

Porridge Radio frontwoman Dana Margolin recently gave an interrogation to the NME that made its headline from one of her quotes:” I’ve always known that we’re the best band in the world countries .” Margolin went on to suggest the present burst of interest in her clique was woefully belated (” Plainly we’re really good and we know it … where have you been ?”) and that their destiny lay in performing to arenas and sports stadiums around the world:” I wanna be Coldplay, obviously .”

This swaggering bravado is standard practice from a certain kind of alt-rock band. The same gobby self-assurance helped propel the Stone Roses, Oasis, Kasabian et al on to the front pages of the music press. The gap here is that every one of Margolin’s statements seems to come accompanied by a roller of the eyes. Porridge Radio are a product of Brighton’s fertile but subterranean DIY scene: a world of cassette-split EPs with American noise parties, debut books recorded in garden sheds, lo-fi cover-ups of Daniel Johnston carols and free all-day galas in tiny venues alongside bands called Satanic Ritual Abuse. Whatever you compile of all this, you certainly couldn’t accuse the people involved of being fuelled by vaulting commercial ambition.

Porridge
Porridge Radio: Every Bad album art work

How we got now, with analysts previously tipping Porridge Radio’s second recording for a Mercury nomination and the NME not merely turning Margolin’s sardonic statements into irony-free headlines but concurring wholeheartedly with them, is an interesting question- one that is answered by Every Bad. It’s slick as compared with some of Porridge Radio’s early exhausts, but in an age when most putatively alternative rock-and-roll arrives coated with such silky breadth that it is indistinguishable from plot popping, the yield feels appealingly bumpy around the edges.

There’s nothing especially new about their clang:( Something) maroons an Auto-Tuned vocal over groaning shoegaze guitars; Don’t Ask Me Twice and single Sweet are among a number of moves that rest on dynamic, ATAG 3 Fairies-esque changes between gentle and thundering. This discovers Margolin as one of rock’s great screamers: her hoarse, guttural resound seems dredged up from somewhere deep within, an genuine idiom of something dark and misery rather than an jittery ornament. Elsewhere, it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to paint Porridge Radio’s spindly guitars, shouty patronage vocals and shadings of violin and cheap-sounding synth arriving 40 year ago, being signed to Rough Trade and thoughts out on a box expedition alongside Essential Logic and Swell Maps.

Their skill lies in rearranging familiar aspects into something that dins fresh, mainly down to their bizarre take on songwriting. Porridge Radio are melodically strongest when they seem to be trying the least hard. Their most obviously pop-facing material, recent single Give/ Take and the prosaically titled Pop Song, territory in the middle of the recording and feels a little flimsy and action in comparison with the anthems around it, where the standard verse-chorus structure tends to dissolve into the insistent repetition of a single phrase.

The first road, Born Confused, has an attention-grabbing opening position-” I’m bored to extinction, let’s argue”- and a faintly anthemic chorus, but it’s over and done within 90 seconds. The remaining half of the song is given over to the phrase” expressed appreciation for for uttering me happy”, which starts out sound bitterly ironic( Margolin has a great line in deliver texts in a bruised tone that suggests their very opposite)- but gradually becomes first cathartic and then weirdly, straightforwardly joyous. It’s a unusual direction to go about get gatherings to punch the breath, but it actually works.

Porridge Radio: Sweet- video

Lilac, meanwhile, turns that emotional wander on its chief. This time around, Margolin recites:” I don’t want to get rancorous, I want us to get better, I want us to be kinder to ourselves and to one another .” What looks like a self-help platitude on paper gradually is an increase a influence at odds with its sensibility, becoming increasingly frenzied and raw-throated, in such a way that wholly subverts any confidence. By the end of the song, it sounds confoundingly like a threat.

This tension of inverses is a reappearing theme , not only in Margolin’s ability to destabilise a lyric with her articulation, but in the words themselves. They’re big on incongruity-” I don’t know what I crave, but I know what I demand”- and often sound like frantic internal talks that capture a extremely twentysomething symbol of angst, where the realisation that you’re now an adult accidents against uncertainty about whether you’re doing adulthood correctly.

Every Bad is an album made by a stripe who are something of a incongruity: from a resolutely uncommercial background, they’ve somehow resolved up making something that is likely to be- and certainly deserves to be- big-hearted. But without losing their strangeness.

This week Alexis listened to

The Avalanches: We Will Ever Adoration You ft Blood Orange
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Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ music/ 2020/ mar/ 12/ porridge-radio-every-bad-review

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