Formed in Brighton in 2015, Porridge Radio are a New Wave, Post Punk, Alternative Pop quartet, fronted by lead vocalist and guitarist Dana Margolin. The punk DIY ethos burns fiercely bright in Porridge Radio. A handful of self-released singles and EPs and the 2016 album “Rice, Pasta And Other Fillers” released on Memorials Of Distinction, has seen the bands’ fan base, rightfully grow from the backroom pubs of Brighton to worldwide recognition. Hotly tipped to be a sound of 2020 and now signed to the Secretly Canadian label, Porridge Radio release their new album “Every Bad.“
Now time for a confession, Brighton is my local. I’ve idled away in back rooms of pubs. I’ve waded through the toilets and danced my patented two-step. I’ve loitered around venues hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars, as they dash from their coach to the stage doors and I’ve left shows early when the hype has squashed the talent. I’ve been following the rise and fall of various Brighton based bands and Porridge Radio have been on the local radar for some time.
Live they are an incredible Tour de force. A tight, raw, emotional energy with Dana Margolin and her disarmingly confessional lyrics and urgent, emotional vocal style, developing into a natural frontwoman. Although previous releases have been interesting listens, they haven’t quite captured the essence of the band and in particular their live shows.
With the release of “Every Bad” the band have finally managed to capture the true sound they’ve been striving towards. The album is themed around Dana Margolin and her emotional state. It’s about her relationships with family, friends, past lovers and future lovers. It’s about mixed emotions and about her own self-doubt. It’s about her trying to discover her place in the world.
“Born Confused” is the album’s opening track. A pure alternative indie-pop song. Margolin uses the first of her despairing lyrics “Thank you for leaving me. Thank you for making me happy” (repeat) The openness and the vulnerability in Margolin’s lyrics are a refreshing delight and are the backbone of the album. Margolin employs the mantra style throughout “Every Bad” as if she is attempting to convince the listener, and herself, of her own worth.
“Sweet” is the superb lead single. It’s anchored around a wonderfully simple keyboard hook and Margolin’s cathartic lyrics: “And sometimes, I am just a child writing letters to myself. Wishing out loud you were dead, and then taking it back” make for a completely engaging experience.
The drama in Margolin’s lyrics and vocal delivery is matched and mirrored by the band as a whole unit. For example, on “Long” a magnificent New Wave explosion, with a touch of the Martin Hannett’s about the production sound, Margolin and the band build to an almost apocalyptic fury before dropping into a lyrical hook of “I’m glad it’s not me.” On “Give Take” we are treated to a beautifully dark pop song. The backing vocals swirl around as Margolin shows off the range of her vocal talents.
The remarkable “Lilac” and the mantra becomes almost hypnotic. A desperately pleading, half-shouted appeal “I don’t want to get bitter. I want us to get better. I want us to be kinder to ourselves and to each other.” The raw, open emotion and the vocal delivery with deeply personal lyrics is compelling and remarkably catchy. I find myself happily chanting along after just a couple of listens.
“Circling” is a keyboard-led, seaside danse macabre. “Everything’s fine, nothing is wrong, everything’s fine” sings Margolin attempting to convince herself love isn’t lost before manically admitting “I go inside the sea sometimes. “ The Martin Hannett sound really comes to the fore on the albums closing track, “Coming Home.” The drums sound wonderfully retro, as does the swirling guitar riff.
There are many bands who have gone through entire careers and have not touched the lyrical and emotional ability of Porridge Radio. “Every Bad” is an emotional listen, but not emotionally draining. Musically it’s surprisingly diverse. There is an interesting blend of the early ’80s and early 90’s sound. Lyrically, there’s a touch of Karen O and Charli XCX. Mixed together Porridge Radio have created an excellent album, it certainly captures the rawness and excitement of their live shows.
Now I’m off to the bookmakers. I’ve got a tenner in my pocket that says Porridge Radio will get a Mercury Music nomination.