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On its new album, Porridge Radio searches for reality in life’s contradictions : NPR


Porridge Radio’s new album, Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky, is an intense file in pursuit of uncomfortable truths.

Matilda Hill Jenkins/Courtesy of the artist


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Matilda Hill Jenkins/Courtesy of the artist


Porridge Radio’s new album, Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky, is an intense file in pursuit of uncomfortable truths.

Matilda Hill Jenkins/Courtesy of the artist

Dana Margolin, lead singer of Porridge Radio, calls for exact environmental situations on “Again To The Radio,” the primary track on the British band’s new album Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky: “Lock all of the home windows and shut all of the doorways / And get into the home and lie down on the chilly arduous flooring.” Solely then can she deal with the work she must do. “We can not get higher if we won’t discuss it,” she sings. Margolin’s identified because the band’s 2016 debut album, Rice, Pasta and Different Fillers, that good intentions are meaningless with out the hassle essential to make them actual. Again then, her songs evidenced a hesitation to behave on that data, an impulse to retreat from the world on the sight of battle. On Waterslide, although, she solely withdraws so she will be able to higher face down all the pieces she might need missed earlier than, each the nice and the dangerous.

Getting higher was additionally the objective on Each Unhealthy, the band’s 2020 album stuffed with refrains that punished like screws twisting into wooden with each repetition. “I do not wish to get bitter, I would like us to get higher,” Margolin chanted on “Lilac,” the lyric fraying as she screamed. Its earnestness topped bands like Beat Taking place and Tiger Entice, whose deal with the mundane and the joyous revolutionized punk’s sensibilities whereas remaining knowledgeable by its sound, as Porridge Radio’s forebears. On Waterslide, Margolin is extra ruthless along with her self-interrogations and able to admit that she will be an impediment to herself. She establishes the stakes early on when she asks questions on change and stasis on the sing-song “Attempting”: “What if I by no means get it proper? What if I do not come again to life?” There is no pretense of a solution; the listener is only a witness to her anxieties.

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For Margolin, a truthful examination of emotional life precludes simple resolutions. Throughout the album, an equal fall backward into neglect meets any motion she makes towards getting higher. “Flowers” is a photo-negative of the mission-driven opening observe, bleaker and slower however with the identical sample of speech. Its depth startles; Margolin flips from a picture of soppy tomatoes to stating: “If I’m punished I’m free from the dangerous.” When the observe offers technique to a piano-driven breakdown like Coldplay’s “Clocks,” it looks as if the stress may evaporate with it. However because the track ends, Margolin lifts her voice increased to sing about emptying out gunk from her coronary heart: “I mentioned it was clear however I do know that it wasn’t.” It is not a defeat, however a reminder that self-deceit can poison any try at change.

Deluding your self requires that you just at the very least know the course you are attempting to go, and in these songs, Margolin often does not. That situation propels her writing’s humor as she hunts for greater and greater contradictions inside herself. On “U Can Be Completely satisfied If U Need To,” she particulars how her pores and skin, head and voice are caught to another person’s, constructing to a single proclamation: “I do not want something.” Her declare complicates when you think about the earlier observe “Rotten,” which ends with the admission “I am afraid of taking what I want.” Typically she layers contrasting exhortations with doubts throughout the span of a single observe. “Jealousy,” limping and darkish like Portishead‘s unsettling noir rock, replicates the confused mind-set that jealousy produces. “Nothing makes me fairly as unhappy as you,” she sings, earlier than instantly taking it again: “Nothing makes me unhappy.” Margolin is aware of that life is not complicated simply because it is arduous to pinpoint what’s proper and what’s improper, however as a result of a number of contrasting truths can exist directly inside you.

In response to press supplies, an opportunity encounter with a collage by British-Argentine visible artist Eileen Agar impressed the file’s title. Agar’s works encompass shocking unions of the unusual and playful, and so does Porridge Radio’s music, current when the band makes use of a hymn-like synth line to steer right into a lyric about pushing out a splinter (“Splintered”) or turns a easy confession of heartache volcanic with a guitar solo (“The Rip”). In its embrace of the absurd and surreal, the band is like fellow British rock experimentalists Dry Cleansing, whose lead vocalist Florence Shaw pulls pathos and humor from collisions of discovered textual content and sometimes inscrutable observations of the world round her. Whereas Shaw deadpans the detritus of life, Margolin screams the banal occasions that replenish the day onto spiraling vertigo. “A worry of loss of life, a worry of dying / Why will not the canine decide up the stick?” she spits out on “Birthday Celebration.” It usually appears that Margolin’s ragged voice and the phrases she repeats on practically each observe are all that is tethering her to the bodily world. It is a high-stakes sport; repeat a phrase or phrase one too many instances and it would lose its that means utterly.

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By attempting to make sense of the incomprehensible, Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky features equally to elegy, a poetic style whose lack of a set type or construction makes an attempt to accommodate the variability of grief and seeming impossibility of loss of life. “Again To The Radio” jogs my memory of “Funeral Blues,” a well-known elegy by British-American poet W. H. Auden. “Cease all of the clocks, reduce off the phone, / Stop the canine from barking with a juicy bone,” the narrator calls for in that poem’s first traces, equally calling for the best environmental situations with a purpose to think about the loss of life of his cherished one. “Silence the pianos and with muffled drum / Deliver out the coffin, let the mourners come.” Whereas Margolin’s name to shutter a home and lie down on the ground isn’t the identical as asking all the planet to quiet, it accommodates the same ambition to seek out time and area to determine all of it out. And all through the file, she factors to a number of issues she wants to determine: what it means to need; if transferring ahead is feasible; whether or not Porridge Radio deserves any of the success its discovered. It will take much more than one file to get there, and till then, at the very least Porridge Radio is keen to speak about it.

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