by Philip Moss
Some songwriters slave away over their lyrics. They dig deep into their psyche – wracking their brains for witty ways to dress up social observations, or require the self-isolation of a writing retreat to spark the muse that will bring forth notebooks full of poetic ramblings.
Others find that inspiration much more naturally in ‘the self’. Once an idea is born, they can run with it – the same themes and contexts, sometimes the same lines almost exactly, swirl in and out, and pour from their pen. And when they hit upon a line that’s right, they do not feel the need to write another that says the same thing in a different, more abstract way. They just go with their hunch because it’s true to them and feels right.
This idea is no more evident for Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin than on Born Confused, which, in so many ways, encapsulates the record. Yes, it’s melodic and yes, it’s packed full of self. But half of it sees the Londoner looping the same line over and over – ‘Thank you for making me happy!’ – making the record’s opener somehow feel like the perfect gig closer. It also shows off the band’s deft ear for arrangement, as what – on first listen – comes on like many other four piece guitar bands, as lovely instrumental phrases and clever touches – violins in this case – are buried in the mix to steal your ears.
Margolin has an knack for constructing vocal melodies too. Don’t Ask Me Twice erupts with grungy howls, while, at the same time, its repetitive chorus recalls early Blur. Her recent reference to major league pop artists such as Lorde being an influence may have confused many, but listening to Give/Take, Sweet, Circling and Long it doesn’t come as a surprise. In much the same way so many Britpop records did, ear worm choruses are on the agenda throughout, making over two thirds of the album bonafide lead single contenders.
The overt pop moments are offset by some clever introspection. Pop Song is downbeat, while closing pair (Something) and Homecoming Song hint at a sound that would make for an interesting long player in themselves.
So following a slew of Bandcamp releases, and 2016’s debut album proper, Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers, the time that the band were given the time to build a loyal fanbase in the old fashioned way and put together the album they wanted to make by major league indie label, Secretly Canadian, has paid off. Now they have the opportunity to connect with the common man and woman, and Every Bad is a record perfectly placed to do so.