ALBUM REVIEW: Porcelain Raft – Permanent Signal

Permanent Signal artwork
Permanent Signal artwork

ARTIST Porcelain Raft

ALBUM Permanent Signal

LABEL Secretly Canadian

RELEASE DATE 20 August 2013

6.5 | 10

Mauro Remiddi’s 2012 LP Strange Weekend crept up on me, as its January release flew over my head, leaving me to unearth the album in December, nearly a year after its release. That album perfectly captured the essence of dream-pop, as the music was seemingly lifted from another dimension, yet had enough hooks to resonate with a human audience. For his 2013 release, Permanent Signal, Remiddi isn’t in the business of fixing what’s not broken. Unfortunately, the foundation he built on Strange Weekend is shown to be as creaky and unsound as a 19th century home.

You get a sense of the direction Remiddi wants to take us in from the opening “Think Of The Ocean,” a dreary, bleak cut lacking in the self-awareness needed to keep the eye-rolling at a minimum. The album picks up in the latter half, with “I Lost Connection” and “The Way Out” proving the be the best of the lot. Both tracks pale in comparison to previous material such as “Drifting In and Out,” “Unless You Speak From Your Heart,” and    “Backwords,” but do offer enough hope for the future of this project.

Mostly, however, the pop hooks that made Strange Weekend such a treat are ignored this go around. “Minor Pleasure” seems poised to become a album highlight, with a strong foreshadowing of a cathartic, bigger-than-music moment. Yet Remiddi holds his cards tight to his chest, ultimately creating a song that is at best “nice,” at worst “aimless.”

While the new LP is rather underwhelming, Remiddi appears to have a clear vision of what he set out to accomplish here. The music transitions seamlessly, helping to create a full album experience. In that context, the payoff that never comes in a song like “Minor Pleasure,” makes a moment of visceral emotion such as on “The Way Out” more impactful, and slightly justifies the more lackluster moments. Strange Weekend showed off Remiddi’s ability to create gorgeous pop songs with emphatic choruses and, to put it frankly, staying power. But with Permanent Signal, Remiddi seems intent on fading out of consciousness.

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