While I openly admit it took a bit for me to drink the Kool-Aid, Dana Margolin is right, her band, Porridge Radio might just be today’s best band.
Porridge Radio may sound like a twee band name, but rest assured they are quite the opposite. The band was created in 2015 after Dana Margolin began working on songs and learning guitar alone in her room in Brighton. With the addition of Sam Yardley (drums), Georgie Stott (keyboard) and Maddie Ryall (Bass), the band became a familiar fixture in the UK’s DIY circuit.
Secretly Canadian released their newest album Every Bad, the follow up to their 2016 self-recorded debut album Rice, Pasta And Other Fillers, in March. Every Bad is a frantic reflection of common anxieties that you’re average twenty-something can relate to; like the moment you realize you’re now an adult and you’re uncertain you’re doing anything correctly.
Margolin is a lyrical master, who is able to communicate complex emotions within the boundaries of her songs. Her delivery is intoxicating, making you feel every emotion, taking you back to the exact time you felt “the same way.” Opening track “Born Confused” will take you directly to the intersection of loss, “fuck you” and joy. The striking opening line – “I’m bored to death, let’s argue” sets the bitterly ironic scene. By the end of the song, Margolin trades her deadpan delivery to an indecisive wail as she repeats, “Thank you for leaving me/ Thank you for making me happy.” It may sound unimpressive and masturbatory that Margolin sings about emotional distress, but she can destabilize a lyric with her voice and give her words a whole new meaning.
Every Bad is a learning process, both compositionally and emotionally. Porridge Radio propelled beyond their lo-fi origins, creating an ambitious, roaring album that pushes the boundaries of language and noise. “Don’t Ask Me Twice” is the perfect example of this, the song begins with the raw sound of guitar and drums, as Margolin begins to crack; sending the listener soaring into a holy place, with echoes of Margolin’s latest mantra. By the second verse she has completely broken, as they erupt into a noisy hail storm, but don’t worry there is a rainbow at the end.
These tracks bend and break and the sound fluctuates from elated to unhinged to severely worn-out, like a musical exorcism. An example of the constant sonic evolution is the song “Lilac” where Margolin chants “I don’t want us to get bitter, I want us to get better,” before it boils over into a wave pool of guitars and strings, “I want us to be kinder to ourselves and to each other” she cries as the wave of sound crashes around her. On an album that grapples so much with the complexities of maturing, “Lilac” offers the idea we aren’t all that bad at growing up.
I encourage everyone to drink the Porridge Radio Kool-Aid. In a world that makes it impossible to suppress existential dread, Every Bad is the conversation you can use. It will surely send you into a tailspin as you find yourself back at that emotional intersection forcing you to embrace vulnerability and purge negativity. May we all learn to stand alone, like each of these tracks.
Essential Tracks: “Don’t Ask Me Twice”, “Lilac”, “Born Confused”