Album Review: Porridge Radio – Every Bad

Friday, March 13, 2020

Every Bad, the sophomore album of Brighton outfit Porridge Radio, is an invitation into the mind of singer, guitarist and songwriter Dana Margolin — at times the experience is gentle, like tender waves delicately meeting the shoreline, but for the most part, it's chaotic and unpredictable, reminiscent of the destructive waves of a tsunami. Margolin is a master of taking any emotion, whether it's good or bad, and turning them into something you can physically feel beyond the boundaries of sound.

The evocative power of water is probably the best way to describe the emotional listening experience of Every Bad. It has moments of unpredictability — just like the unknowing destructive force of mother nature. On the album, things may appear calm for a brief moment, but then Margolin unleashes a rapturous wave of roaring vocals stopping you in your tracks instantly. This can be felt on songs like 'Sweet', where she utters words like "I am charming I am sweet," in a mantra-like fashion before upping the intensity without anticipating it. Then there's '(Something)', which feels like it's building towards something ominous deep beneath the surface.

Throughout the course of Every Bad, it feels as if Margolin is speaking her words into existence. This can be felt on tracks like 'Circling', which then seamlessly transitions into '(Something)'. 'Circling' was inspired by the motion of water, with Margolin saying on the track, "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."

Some of the songs on Every Bad appear so personal that you feel like you're invading Margolin's privacy by listening to them — it's a privilege that she has shared her most fragile moments with us. The multi-layered 'Lilac' starts moderately calm before the repetition of the words, "I'm stuck," lurk in the background demanding that their presence be known. The words, "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," are especially important. The song builds up like water reaching its boiling point in a kettle before ending abruptly and without knowing when it's going to happen.

It's okay to not have life totally figured out and the album reaffirms this. The opener 'Born Confused' features the words "Maybe I was born confused so I don't know what's going on / Maybe nothing's going on," capture this. 'Give/Take' is home to a sea of confusing feelings, accurately portraying what it's like to be left clouded by your own questions and self-doubt.

Porridge Radio's emotional closer 'Homecoming Song' might repeat the words "There's nothing inside," but there's a lot to unpack from your listening experience of Every Bad. The album shows that it's possible to be both fragile and fearless, guarded yet assertive, and that you can be confused but also know exactly what you want. The band's sophomore offering is a masterpiece that will give anyone who embarks on the album's journey an experience that they won't forget.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

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