Album Review Porridge Radio - Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky

It might be riddled with hurt but its takeaway feels a lot like hope.

Porridge Radio - Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky

With trajectory-changing 2020 LP ‘Every Bad’, Brighton’s Porridge Radio became a band simply too good to ignore. A word-of-mouth breakthrough success following under-the-radar debut ‘Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers’, its intensely cathartic stories, narrated by lynchpin Dana Margolin’s edge-of-the-precipice vocal delivery, propelled the quartet suddenly out of the underground and onto the Mercury Prize shortlist: a place they clearly never expected to be and that, Dana has explained, fed into much of anticipated follow-up ‘Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky’’s lyrics. Full of visceral, tactile imagery of sickly bodies and wretched mental states, the experience has evidently been a head fuck; if ‘Every Bad’ was raw, then ‘Waterslide…’ is almost compulsive in its need to splay its heart across every moment. Skin is peeled away in majestic centrepiece ‘U Can Be Happy If U Want To’ and hands are cut off in the strangely gentle, tender ‘End of Last Year’; there’s barely a track here that doesn’t contain references to breaking points and bodily rejections, to sadness and badness and mantras of pain (“I don’t want to be loved,” repeats ‘Birthday Party’ as it crescendos into an Arcade Fire-like purge). But therein lies the brilliance. Like the greatest musical masters of devastation (there are touches of The Cure found throughout the album’s increasingly widescreen sensibilities), there’s something invigorating about how audibly Porridge Radio stare their demons head on, step up to the plate and turn them into something big and ambitious and beautiful. And, much like its title, ‘Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky’ might be riddled with hurt but its takeaway feels a lot like hope.

 

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