Porcelain Tongue’s new album “Feel Your Pain” is the sound of uncertainty rumbling in the minds of musicians that have just put on a great DYI club show and are dealing with a small but noteworthy display of public adulation. It’s what cool kids who think that they’re cursed think about. It’s a begrudging acceptance of an invitation to join the adult world.
Album opener “Support” sets us up for an ambitious, atmosphere-first indie-rock record. And it lets you know that the group members have set themselves up for disappointment. These aren’t songs about celebrating life but understanding and accepting frailty.
The powerful, moody baritone takes, again, centre stage of “Held Up.” Here, the vocals metamorphose into what could be a much older version of the singer, one in which he’s fed up with the world’s games and with finding wiggle room for his ideals.
It all leads to “Back Pains,” the album’s essential track. Musically the sound is reminiscent of the earnest punk and emo-inspired folk of bands like mewithoutyou! The poetry of the lyrics and murmuring instrumental all carefully add tension that forever seems ready to burst over and start delivering ungodly flames. This is not easy-listen material!
But it’s what Porcelain Tongue do best. They create a world in which their uncertainties can inhabit. “Quick to Blame” has much in common with the post-punk revival of the 2000s, as does the mysterious titular track. But, unlike groups like Interpol or Editors, Porcelain Tongue isn’t fishing for a single. What they want are devotees.
These true believers are the ones for which journal-entry-type songs like “Comply” and “Goodbye Peggy” are written. It is, of course, a calculated risk. Do Porcelain Tongue show too much of their hand? Perhaps. But earning your trust is deemed important enough for this kind of reveal.
Porcelain Tongue’s “Feel Your Pain” is an even release, a well-crafted one and, most often, an uncomfortable listen. The band has its folkish indie-rock sound down. They could’ve easily pursued three-minute singles. Instead, they do the hard work first and reveal everything that they feel is wrong with the world and with themselves.
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