“Thank you for making me happy”, repeats Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin on ‘Every Bad’ opener ‘Born Confused’, a sentiment which unsettlingly spirals from its initial whimsical delivery into a pained, otherworldly caterwaul. It sets the tone for a record that never really presents itself as either fully happy or miserable, treading the dense grey area that floats between the two. Dana’s vocal snarls jar against the startling music, itself conjuring a nightmarish atmosphere that plays with both the record’s raw feel and its many dramatic climaxes.
‘Every Bad’ deals with the conflicting emotions of existing in harmony with others. In both sound and lyric it embodies this confusion perfectly. “I don’t know what I want, but I know what I want,” she wrestles on ‘Don’t Ask Me Twice’, one of the record’s many moments as bewildered as they are assertive. All these emotions unfold simultaneously, Porridge Radio unafraid to present utter frustration, contempt, self-deprecation and despondency in its full, brutal glory.
The often-ominous soundscapes that accompany each word are as surreal as they are mesmerising. In its outpouring of emotion, ‘Every Bad’ plays with its own intensity. The cataclysmic ‘Sweet’ glides from minimal sounds to a visceral vocal explosion, while ‘Pop Song’ pairs Dana’s powerful heartbreak with a gentle melody. Each individual moment offers a new tone, a new feeling, but carries the distinct sound that Porridge Radio have made their own.
Few albums carry the raw emotion of ‘Every Bad’, and carry it with such musical confidence. Come closer ‘Homecoming Song’, Dana declares “there’s nothing inside”, having spent the previous ten tracks embracing vulnerability and purging herself of all feeling, both good and bad. That the album has the same effect on the listener is nothing short of incredible.
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Watch performances from the shortlisted artists on BBC Four at 10pm on 23rd September.
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