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Porridge Radio - Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky Music Album Reviews

Porridge Radio - Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky Music Album Reviews
Broadening its sound and tightening its lyrical focus, the Brighton post-punk band conjures mantras of despair and anthems of pure frustration.

If it helps anyone distinguish Porridge Radio among the UK’s thriving nation-state of young, verbose, and ambitious post-punk bands, Dana Margolin would prefer if you compared them to nu-metal or emo: “They’re as cringe as me,” she jokes in a press release. Whereas their peers emote through cryptic metaphors, wry wordplay, dense allusions, or deadpan humor, Porridge Radio revel in being the kind of people who dream of showing up to your birthday party just to scream “I don’t want to be loved” over and over again. Breathlessly titled like an early Bright Eyes deep cut, Porridge Radio’s third album Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky honors Margolin’s self-appraisal: an inversion of teen-pop that doesn’t engage in time travel so much as allow adult listeners to keep their most immediate and mortifying mindsets close at hand. If they could write uplifting, emotionally mature love songs, I’m not sure they would.

They came close with “Lilac,” the crescendo to 2020’s breakthrough Every Bad, where Margolin hoped for a future of collective kindness and self-care. On Waterslide, it’s clear that didn’t come to pass, as Margolin deals in concerns that don’t resolve themselves in the span of two years: the struggle to define self-worth, a hyperbolic vision of “love” that encapsulates extreme elation and depression rather than any exchange of intimacy between two equal partners. Most pressingly, she writes about the fear of death and the fear of dying, which her feverish inflections on “Birthday Party” imply are two very different things.

As much as the pandemic itself amplified Margolin’s anxieties—Every Bad was released two days after the WHO declared a global pandemic in March 2020—there was also her experience of fronting a buzzing indie rock band when the expectations for doing so were completely upended. Porridge Radio began writing “Back to the Radio,” Waterslide’s delirious opening track, toward the end of 2019, right when the promotional cycle for Every Bad was revving up and Margolin began to absorb everything that would soon be required of her band. How would their friendship survive their first international tour? How would their music be interpreted or misinterpreted? Can vulnerability scale? Understandably, their first response was to self-impose quarantine: “Lock all the windows and march up the stairs/And you’re looking to me but I’m so unprepared for it,” Margolin bellows. It’s Porridge Radio’s first intentional anthem, with a rousing chorus that accrues momentum and mass with each repetition, like a soccer chant shared by a swaying, shoulder-to-shoulder crowd—that is, if it wasn’t written to suit someone drinking away their fear of change in total seclusion.

Processing overwhelming and conflicting impulses within closed spaces is where Porridge Radio’s music functions best. While the vast, tidal expanses of Every Bad often invoked the band’s roots in seaside Brighton, Waterslide is less musically temperamental, its peaks never pushing into the red and its quieter moments indulgently stewing in their indulgently sullen moods. Forgoing their past reliance on blunt force, static, and stabs of distortion, Waterslide broadens Porridge Radio’s sound with honking synths, megaphones, horns, studio luxuries with the patina of junkyard grime—the influence of Rain Dogs smuggled into radio-friendly indie rock vis a vis Modest Mouse.

Still, it’s Margolin alone who determines the trajectory of each song. Even as she reaches her peak of dysregulation on “Birthday Party,” the volume behind her barely rises; it’s not like witnessing a full-blown meltdown, but rather someone about to be calmly asked by a friend, again, “Please don’t make a scene.” Rarely does a minute go by without Margolin recalibrating the stakes of every interaction to an impossible height. The errant lover from “End of Last Year” doesn’t just break hearts—they break everything they touch. On “Jealousy,” Margolin confesses, “Nothing makes me quite as sad as you.” She is an apple rotting from the inside out, an overripe tomato waiting to be cut in half and squeezed into pulp. As she helplessly watches her dog refuse to pick up a stick, she sees a greater metaphor for a cruel, unfeeling world. By the desolate closing track, little exists between heaven and hell.

These aren’t passing states. Most of the time, Margolin anchors a verse’s worth of tangential thoughts and inventive phrasing with a despairing mantra: “Don’t want my body to be touched/Don’t want to mean anything to you,” “It stops the rot from spreading,” “You’re all that I want.” But where this tactic felt like an artist discovering their signature on Every Bad, the thematic reiteration turns all of the self-recrimination and emptiness and brokenness into an emotional brownout as Waterslide progresses. “I want one feeling all the time/I don’t want to feel a thing,” Margolin shouts on “Birthday Party” as a quintessential lyric; if they’re gonna feel nothing, they want it to the extreme.

Still, the intentionality and humor in Margolin’s repetition keeps it from becoming a crutch. Despite noting the influence from the sound and spirit of arena acts like Deftones and Coldplay, Porridge Radio never allow themselves to fully project their pain outward, where it can reach the cheap seats. There’s certainly the potential for catharsis in comparing yourself to a splinter and begging your partner “don’t cut me out” until you’re out of breath. But throughout Waterslide, Margolin instead conjures the sound of pure frustration: desires unheard, needs unmet, people experiencing their most juvenile impulses in an adult body and no longer able to solve them with the cheap thrill of acting out in public.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Porridge Radio - Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky Music Album Reviews Porridge Radio - Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, May 26, 2022 Rating: 5

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