It’s taken me some time to write this review of Every Bad, the debut album by Porridge Radio. It’s been a journey. Sincerely. I’ll tell you why. Consider this a precis of what’s to come: you ever hear a joke you thought was really funny that then became slightly less funny in repeated tellings that you then heard on Twitter and grumbled about because ‘Jesus, are people still laughing at that, that joke is literally hours old.” First time I heard Every Bad, the debut album by Porridge Radio, I thought, “hey, this is great, I’m going to play this next time I’m in the car and give it the almighty listening it deserves.” Cut to me playing the album in the car: “Is this the same record? I’m sure this was really great as opposed to just being good. Maybe I’m in a mood. Maybe I should play it another time. Yeah I’ll do that. I’ll play ‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina and the Waves.
That’s what I need to get through today. ‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina and the Waves. I’ll come back to Porridge Radio. I want to give it the review it deserves. Not just another angry moaning wanky review that demonstrates I’m just an old fuck who can’t even do new music any more.” Cut to a couple or three days later: “Hey! Porridge Radio! Ok. I’m ready. Thrill me like you did the first time! ‘Born Confused’! Opening track: “I’m bored to death / Let’s argue / I’m bored to death / Let’s argue.” Oh god. This is too close to my actual lockdown life. Shut up brain. Persevere. Okay. That bass line sounds a bit XX like. Or Cure-like. Either way. Bass line is good. Vocals are a bit Robert Smith like too. “Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for leaving me / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy / Thank you for making me happy.’ Okay. Official sound of the lockdown. And quite possibly the closest Porridge Radio get to Katrina and the Waves. ‘Sweet’ follows.
Epic swathes of guitar noise. Vocals a bit high in the mix for my liking. “My mum gave me this pen / She said It lights up when you press it / And something something so depressed.” Okay: bummed again now. Bloody lockdown. Stupid Boris Johnson not going to Cobra meetings. Stupid people complaining on Twitter about how some other people didn’t pay Rupert Murdoch all the extra money he needs for a single piece of investigative journalism that doesn’t quite justify all of the years spent perverting democracy as part of his evil empire. Focus brain. Focus: Porridge Radio. Track 3: ‘Don’t Ask Me Twice’. Opens with some nice mathematical drumming. “I don’t know / I don’t know / I don’t know,” she sings. You and me both sister. “It’s been a long long long long time,” she sings. I feel it. She’s basically critiquing my review of her album. “I don’t know / I don’t know / I don’t know.” There’s a shaft of sunlight through the window and I wonder if I am actually recreating the experience of listening to Porridge Radio. Maybe this is the best thing I’ve ever written. “Take me to hell,” she sings. Is this still only track 3? Possibly inspired by the repetition of the previous song, the fourth track is named ‘Long’.
It’s four minutes and 50 seconds long. I can do this. “You’re wasting my time,” she sings. Twice. The vocal seems more pointed every time I try to listen to this album to review it. “You’re wasting my time / you’re wasting my time / you’re wasting my time,” she sings over and over. (I momentarily wonder whether I should Google Porridge Radio so I know the vocalist’s name but then the ignorance feels to me a beautiful power. I’m not Googling. I’m experiencing.) She’s changed it up now: “I’m wasting my time / I’m wasting my life / I’m wasting my life.” Porridge Radio are talking to me, man. I feel like Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now. ‘Nephews’ is next. Not wildly dissimilar to Another Sky – although Another Sky made ‘Chillers’ which was one of the best songs of 2019 so not entirely a fair comparison. ‘Pop Song’ is the hump. We’ve reached half way. Well done. The fairest thing you can say about ‘Pop Song’ is that – if this is the single – Porridge Radio could do with listening to Radio 1 for a whole day. That’s probably punishment enough. I should also say at this point that the first enthusiastic listen feels a long time ago. If that wasn’t entirely clear. (Furthermore – I know – people are frothing about this record. I know it’s a hot pick. I can only imagine that the people for whom this is a hot pick are either (a) related to members of Porridge Radio or (b) haven’t heard any other music before in their lives). ‘Give / Take’ perks things up a bit. The lyrically repetitive style doesn’t stop being incredibly wearing but at least the song feels like it’s prepared to get out of bed and do some star jumps in the garden. But don’t worry, ‘Lilac’ takes things down a notch again, with another somnambulant beat and a lyrical refrain that runs “I’m stuck / I’m stuck / I’m stuck / I’m stuck / I’m stuck.”
It’s at roughly this point that – should the administrators of limbo be looking for a new house band – I want to suggest Porridge Radio. It also occurs to me that Porridge Radio is the perfect name for this band. If this was on the radio I’d happily fill my ears with porridge. Jesus. Cheer the fuck up. Track 9 sounds like a sort of nursery rhyme within shouting distance of a Penelope Isles song. Needless to say: Penelope Isles are much better than Porridge Radio. By the time we reach ‘(Something)’ we are, of course, needled by the fact that (a) they couldn’t be bothered to name the song properly and (b) they put the non-title in brackets. The last song on the record is called ‘Homecoming Song’. You may be shocked to learn that the lyrics begin: “I’m coming home / I’m coming home / I’m coming home / Oh leave me alone / leave me along / leave me alone.” I know that Iggy Pop was a practitioner of the 50 words and no more in a song but this is taking the piss. We spent the two and a half minutes of the song imagining the Porridge Radio fan to be a person so supremely happy in their life that they require music that takes them down a peg or two every day. “There’s nothing inside,” she sings. “There’s nothing inside.” If you don’t take my word for it, take their’s: there’s nothing inside.
Words by Pete Wild