Porridge Radio – ‘Water slide, diving board, ladder to the sky’: review

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You look at me, but I’m so unprepared for thissings Dana Margolin on “Back To The Radio,” the first track from Porridge Radio’s third album “Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky.” She wrote this song just before the release of their latest album, 2020’s ‘Every Bad’, when she felt things were about to change for them. She was right about that. The band from Brighton have become the new darling of indie here and in the United States; NME gave the album five stars and featured the band in a cover story. It’s a line that easily sums up the feeling of following a beloved album, and all the expectations that come with it.

READ MORE: On the cover – Porridge Radio: “I always knew we were the best band in the world”

It’s not like Porridge Radio is dodging the notion of recognition – says Margolin with a wink NME in this cover feature they want to be as big as Coldplay. While ‘Every Bad’ was built on a gritty sonic foundation, for ‘Waterslide…’ they gave the songs a cleaner sheen that supports their ambition.

It’s subtle, though, and the band in no way loses its cathartic edge. Often Margolin’s voice seems to quiver with barely contained emotion; and when the time is right and the impact is maximum, she lets it become a ragged howl. Drummer Sam Yardley also contributes a lot to the intensity, his frantic and heavy fills becoming a second voice in the fray. Take ‘Birthday Party’ as a stellar example. It begins with a laid-back, controlled facade, even as Margolin describes panic attacks and a fixation on death. But regularly, she and the group become frantic, until at the end the chorus of “I don’t want to be loved” is hammered home with a wild and moving desperation.

There are also many variations in their sound. “Trying” is a jangly, flippant experience, allowing the bassline to breathe amidst acoustic guitar and smooth drums. “The Rip” is a dance-y offering, powered by synths and a driving hi-hat beat. And ‘Flowers’, a piano ballad, is one of the album’s most memorable moments. Margolin’s vocals are unassumingly punchy with the stripped-down instrumentation; the song slowly builds to a rich crescendo that highlights them even more. “Plants don’t get watered”, sings Margolin to a lover, by turns ashamed and resentful. It’s representative of why she’s a top-notch lyricist, her ability to deliver ugly or confusing feelings with sincerity and charisma.

Throughout the album, his lyrical outlook is heartbreak and self-loathing. “I don’t want to be loved,” she insists on ‘Birthday party’. “I don’t mean nothing to you, ” she mocks ‘Splintered’. “What if I never succeed? she asks on ‘Trying’. On ‘U Can Be Happy If U Want To’, she starts screaming, “I do not need anything ! And I never feel good again!

This word, “need“, is a focal point of the album, appearing in five different songs. In ‘U Can Be Happy…’ she doesn’t need anything, while on ‘Flowers’, the next track, she confesses “need[ing] it’s too much. On the languorous ‘Rotten’, she hums:I’m afraid to take what I need. The only word that seems to come back more than that is “want to“, which shows a whopping 104 examples. What Margolin wants and doesn’t want, in each instance of frustration and sadness, provides the album’s most emphatic moments. Knowing what you want is much easier than knowing what you need, and it is from this tension that the album draws its vital and disordered power.

It’s similar to the state of confusion she inhabited on “Every Bad,” and a lot of the themes continue: On that album’s “Pop Song,” she claims she’s rotten and jealous to the core , and on this one, she explores them further. , uh, ‘Rotten’ and ‘Jealousy’. But on ‘Waterslide…’, she’s more defeated, less able to show bravado or small comforts. With the last album, she claimed with a smirk that she was lovely and sweet between those ugly moments, but here she’s evil and evil, and doesn’t seem to find much relief from it. And while “Circling” from the previous album finds the sea whispering to her that she’s fine when she needs a friend, on this album’s “Flowers” that same sea”spatted my face, said, ‘Don’t drag me into this’.

The album could be seen as a sequel to “Every Bad”, which takes its best qualities and pushes them further, shaping them into an even more effective and impactful form. But it could also be seen simply as a representation of how life keeps happening, and that’s never easier to understand, regardless of success, experience, or confidence. Porridge Radio are honing their craft, but they don’t pretend nothing gets easier, and that’s what makes them such an irresistible band.

Details

Release date: May 20

Record company: Secretly Canadian

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