Porridge Radio, the bedroom project turned fully-fledged musical vision by frontwoman Dana Margolin, are becoming a bit of a live staple in the Brighton music scene. Whether a solo performance or as a band, they’ve impressed audiences with their mixture of lo-fi post-punk, and witty and creative lyrical cynicisms – as well as being one of the few local bands you’re genuinely excited to see time and time again. After 2016’s excellent Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers, they’re back with another collection of demos in the form of Bad Breath, which continues the rough around the edges vision of the unfastidious project.
Finished and unpublished for a very long time, it’s finally reached the light of day and, in many ways, it’s classic Porridge Radio. From murky, comatosed melancholia of Porridge Radio’s unkempt musical appearance to the cruising, idyllic lyrics that are weighty and worthy of further investigations, it’s a thoroughly interesting project. Of course, much like their live performances, it feels ramshackle, almost thinly put together, but, crucially, it also feels incredibly creative and purposeful.
From the opening lackadaisical beats of ‘Intro-Outro’, Bad Breath feels like slacker-rock where both the ‘slacker’ and the ‘rock’ actually have a harmonious relationship. Of course, right from ‘Intro-Outro’’s dejected keyboard there’s a touch of the forlorn, as it slowly meanders to its close, but the likes of ‘Pop Song’ and ‘Bread’ have a populist tranquillity that equally keeps up the rock aspect. There’s a sense of adolescent naivety, too, with a lot of the songs sounding like haunting lullabies for babies in a disturbing Lynchian nightmare. The repeated notion of “Don’t Worry” in ‘Baby Normcore’ is unsettling to say the least, especially with its backdrop of chiming, offbeat, melodic beats that become enchanting and entrancing in equal measure.
There’s almost a surefire balance to Bad Breath, that combines despondency with delightful melodies. There’s a broodiness to ‘Love Song’, that is reminiscent of Bjork’s brand of art pop, but with a subtle nod to the jangliness of the best indie artists today. Certainly, throughout Bad Breath, there’s a pop dexterity that runs right through the record. ‘Softness’, for example, sounds like St Vincent’s later work, with its roaming pop beats and wistful, dejected vocal that harks of heartache and sorrow. There’s a winning formula with Porridge Radio, though, for sure, as even when they ruminate in the shadows vocally, they break out with fetching musical consonance.
Yet, throughout the project there’s a sense of foreboding, as if something bad is going to happen at any moment. During the making of the album, and indeed a lot of the time, frontwoman Dana described having a, “Weird feeling” and Bad Breath does a very good job of describing this feeling. There’s certainly more than a tinge of melancholia, maybe even an impression of nervousness, that is not only incredibly touching, but wholesome and poignant. In many ways, there’s nothing new here from Porridge Radio, but when the formula is so intriguing, why change it? Bad Breath is a coarse, bawdy statement that has a lot more depth than is instantly clear. It’s also one which borrows from some of pop’s most alternative stars of today, as well as bringing an anxious foreboding that only Porridge Radio can bring.