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Porridge Radio
Every Bad Ben Hewitt , March 26th, 2020 09:55

Brighton indie band get slick on new album Every Bad, finds Ben Hewitt

Towards the end of Porridge Radio’s twitchy, terrific Every Bad, singer Dana Margolin trades her jaded snark for something more earnest. “I don’t want us to get bitter, I want us to get better,” she sings over and over on the hazy storm of ‘Lilac’. “I want us to be kinder to ourselves and to each other.”

The gracious credo is all the more remarkable given the raw nerves she exposes on the Brighton band’s fraught, restless new album, which pokes and prods at the melodic bittersweet-spot between post-punk, indie-rock and dream-pop. Her voice, flitting between exasperation and exhaustion, has a knack for turning what could be bright-eyed sentiment into something sour and sardonic, like a children’s TV presenter having an existential crisis. “Thank you for leaving me, thank you for making me happy,” she spits repeatedly on ‘Born Confused’, its bright, jangling chords belying its acid heart, until her voice becomes so strangled she chokes on her own sarcasm.

A supposedly wholesome scene on ‘Sweet’ – Margolin’s mum giving her a novelty light-up pen – becomes a harrowing black comedy when she starts badgering her about her depression. The lullaby-gentle score keeps erupting into violent mushroom clouds full of rusty, serrated guitars, in just the same way a swarm of ugly, anxious thoughts can come out of nowhere to fug your brain. “I am charming, I am sweet, and she will love me when she meets me,” leers the nail-biting, self-loathing Margolin, making it sound more like a threat than a wistful daydream. And while ‘Pop Song’ might promise breezy fun, it’s actually a gorgeous malaise. “Take me back to bed,” she sighs over guitar with the glistening, gloopy texture of treacle. “Shoot me in the head.”

It’d be easy to assume the reason Every Bad sounds so vital is because its raw, agitated songs are the perfect soundtrack for these blighted times, built to be played while the world’s never-ending dumpster fire burns hotter and hotter. But it’s also got a slicker, more muscular sound than 2016’s home-recorded Rice, Pasta And Other Fillers, from the fuzzy, radio-friendly ‘Give/Take’ to the chilly, glassy keyboards of frazzled standout ‘Long’, on which Margolin yelps (maybe at someone else, maybe at herself): “You’re wasting my time!”. Most crucially, it’s all underpinned by a glint of defiance among the despair, a resolve to muddle through the dreck and come out that little bit cleaner on the other side. “We’re all okay, all of the time,” she sings at first on the dreamy fairground waltz of ‘Circling’, only to admit the truth isn’t quite so sunny: “I am okay, some of the time.” Sure, the glass is half-empty at best — but it’s still worth savouring.