Every Bad by Porridge Radio

2020

Porridge Radio certainly like to repeat a lyric. In “Born Confused”, the opening song on this exciting album, Dana Margolin, the lead singer sings “Thank you for making me happy” 39 times in a row.

When I walk Bruno around the very ordinary streets of Hassocks, I normally listen to a podcast. I’ve taken to re listening to the “Nothing Is Real” podcasts from 2019. Friday’s episode was about The Beatles at Christmas between 1965 and 1969. Very comforting. However, yesterday, in order to prepare for Tuesday’s album club, I listened to “Every Bad” by Porridge Radio. It was a very strange sensation to be walking the same streets that I have trekked around, seemingly forever, with the words of “Long” resounding through my headphones. Here some of the lines that get repeated over and over during this song:

“Nobody’s telling me anything”

“I’m not in charge of anything”

“I’m wasting my life”

The average age for a man to die in Mid Sussex is 81.4 Last year, I turned 66. If I am lucky enough to live to be 81.4, I’m guessing that I won’t be very active for the last few years of my life. Let’s say that for the last 5 years of my life, I won’t be able to climb the stairs at The Amex or play snooker or drive across the USA. To be honest, the pain in my hip is such that I’m not confident I can do any of those things now but let’s assume I can emulate Ben and Rob and get my hip fixed. That’s quite a big assumption because the waiting lists for hip operations is likely to be huge. I need to get back on the list. I digress. Let’s assume that by late Summer I can indulge myself in some of those things. That means that I will have spent 10% of my active retirement years walking the dog, listening to music, writing this blog and watching sport on TV. It’s probably a bit over dramatic for me to empathise with the line “I’m wasting my life”. That line is more relevant to someone in their 20’s who doesn’t know what to do with their lives; maybe someone who has lost their job in lockdown, someone who can’t imagine how their future is going to unfold.

“My body is so uncomfortable”

“I’m stuck. I’m stuck. I’m stuck. I’m stuck. I’m stuck. I’m stuck. I’m stuck. I’m stuck. I’m stuck. I’m stuck. I’m stuck”

“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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.”

These are some of the lines from Track 8, “Lilac”. The more she repeats these lines, the more unhinged, hopeless and anxious she sounds. As I said, it was a strange experience to have these words blasted into my ears in the middle of a lockdown. There is, of course, an unattractive element of self pity in this. When Dana Margolin sings “There’s nothing inside” 22 times in a row at the end of the last song on the album, “Homecoming” and when I write about the deadening effect of having all social activities removed, nobody should feel sorry for me or with my feeble attempt to empathise with these sentiments. The truth is that most people are much less lucky than I am. So I’m not expecting pity or sympathy. On the other hand, it’s grim. It’s grim for people who have lost loved ones or seen their income slashed. That doesn’t mean that it’s not grim for those of us whose life has been upturned. In the unlikely event that there’s anyone still reading this, I know we are all in this together. It’s grim for all of us, in our own way.

The sound of this album is brilliant. “Long” starts with a simple percussion beat and a quiet jangly guitar before Dana Margolin starts singing in a voice that sounds a little like Courtney Barnett. All the time that she sounds in control the music is classic Nineties indie-rock with jangly guitar but as she becomes more desperate, the intensity of the music increases. A brief downtime before lapsing back into the ferocious climax. It’s a brilliant pop song which ends with the same percussion that started the song and Dana Margolin wearily singing “I’m glad it’s not me” over and over.

In “Sweet”, Dana Margolin sings a line and then waits for the band to briefly explode into life before it quietens for her next line. Lyrics about her Mum worrying about her state of mind and giving her a pen that lights up when you press it might possibly be an insight into a disturbed state of mind. As the song progresses, the intensity of the singing and music coincide in a frenzy of blitzed out turmoil.

“Give/Take” starts a little like a middle period Cure song. Dana Margolin wants you so much that she repeats the word “want” 24 times before wondering how she can say “No” without sounding like “a little bitch“. As always, with the repetition of the lyrics, the more she repeats a line, the more she sounds urgent, distressed and manic. It’s a very exciting and effective style.

This is Porridge Radio’s first album for an established label, Secretly Canadian, having previously released four albums. The band consists of Dana Margolin (guitar, vocals), Georgie Stott (keyboards), Maddie Ryall (bass) and drummer Sam Yardley. The sound of the album is simultaneously modern and retro; indie pop for the 2020’s.

The album was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2020 and here is the invocation. “‘I’m bored to death / Let’s argue,’ sings Porridge Radio’s singer, songwriter and guitarist Dana Margolin in the opening seconds of the band’s album. Those feelings of frustration and uncertainty appear across the whole album, as Margolin attempts to figure out her place in a world that doesn’t allow space for self-reflection. The chaos is reflected in the itchy guitar lines and agitated drums, helping the Brighton-based band burn off some of that nervous energy.

Porridge Radio are from Brighton and Dana Margolin said about Track 9, “Circling”, “A lot of the songs on Every Bad are centered around the sea, and “Circling” was one of the last songs focused on the water that I wrote for the album. I was thinking on the idea of willing things to be okay by repeating that they are, because I need them to be. I tried to follow the feeling of the flow of waves, and how they keep coming in endlessly, washing everything away without judgment, and then bringing it back again.” She sometimes goes inside the sea as she tells us 13 times during the course of the song.

This is the sort of band that I would love to go and see with Peter and/or Richard and we would be more than twice the age of everybody else in the audience and my back would hurt and it would be very crowded and I’d sway gently while everybody else was idiot dancing and it would be hot and sweaty and I’d get annoyed by people barging into me and the feeling of the music would make it all worthwhile. Live music gigs. It won’t be long. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

One thought on “Every Bad by Porridge Radio

  1. I hadn’t heard of Porridge Radio until just before Christmas when, late one night, lying in bed reading with the radio on, this track came on that slowly intruded on my book. It was Born Confused and it was the repetition, the angst, the passion that grabbed my attention. I listened to the album a couple of days later and I’ll definitely listen again. On first hearing, the cumulative effect of the whole album was a lesser experience that the effect of the individual tracks though I sense it needs a couple of listens. As you say, an exciting band.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: