The band’s third album has a raw power which has the ability, at times, to stop you in your tracks. It’s also their best work to date
Porridge Radio‘s breakthrough album, Every Bad, was released on 13 March 2020. Ten days later, the country, in the grip of the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, went into lockdown. Therefore, an awful lot of people suddenly found themselves with plenty of time of their hands, and the band quickly became a pandemic-era favourite for a lot of people.
Two years on and, if anything, the band’s third album, Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky, is even more of an intense listen. For Porridge Radio are very good at emotions – and not of the whiney, ’emo’ variety. Lead singer Dana Margolin’s voice can conjure up rage, frustration and yearning, and often does so all in the same song.
Back To The Radio is so huge it almost sounds like a statement of intent. That may be a strange thing to say about a band formed seven years ago, but everything about it just seems to click into place: the long intro with instruments tuning up, the almighty noise unleashed by Margolin’s guitar, and by the time she kicks things off with the line “lock all the windows and march up the stairs” you’re completely invested – the fact that there’s no real chorus means that the song gains an unstoppable momentum of its own.
That intensity is repeated several times though the album, to increasingly impressive effect. Birthday Party features Margolin rasping “I don’t wanna be loved” repeatedly until she’s almost hoarse, and then careers off into a stream-of-consciousness rant, screaming about a “fear of death, fear of dying”. It’s compulsive listening, and although it sometimes sounds like you’re eavesdropping on a diary reading, you don’t want the song to end.
Luckily, the band realise that an entire album like this may be a little much, so there’s also some lighter moments. Trying may be full of self-doubt (“If I was older would I know what to do with it… what if I never get it right?”) but it skips along beautifully thanks to Sam Yardley’s infectious percussion. The title track, which closes the record, is possibly the loveliest thing they’ve recorded yet, a stripped-down acoustic ballad which makes for a hushed, if atypical, way to end the record.
Porridge Radio are at their best though when they turn up the intensity. The Rip is another song which somehow sounds enormous, wave after wave of instrumentation washing over the listener while their trademark repetition kicks in – “Now my heart aches, now my heart aches,” sings Margolin. Yet underneath the squall of guitar and screamed vocals is a song that could easily be danced to. I Hope She’s OK 2 pulls off a similar trick, all stamp-along melodies and eerie organ sounds, while the reverb soaked Jealousy manages to sound both sad and defiant, creating a wall of sound reminiscent of last year’s Wolf Alice album.
If the pandemic coinciding with Porridge Radio’s breakthrough success fazed them, it’s not showing on Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky. The band’s third album has a raw power which has the ability, at times, to stop you in your tracks. It’s also their best work to date.