Dignan Porch - Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen
Who knew that a song revolving around picking up dust could be quite so catchy? Dignan Porch, that's who. Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen is the title of the fuzzy-pop project's second album, and it's a bit of a treat, really. Hailing from South London, the project's debut - Tendrils - was the solo work of their now-frontman Joe Walsh. That record came out in 2010, and - as the trend went at the time - was recorded entirely by him on a Tascam 8-track. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Well, the pattern continues as Walsh – like many other bedroom-pop projects now – has fleshed out his sound to make use of a full band under his employment.
The changes are immediately noticeable, and extremely welcome. Take everything that was great about Tendrils - the weird, oddball psychedelic garage rock, the odes to noise rock and the nods to freak folk – and image it all muscular and refined. Opener 'Picking Up Dust' sets the tone beautifully – soft-rock guitars wail over the top of Joe and band mate Hayley Atkin's dual vocals, which beautifully melt together as if to form a new voice entirely. The lyrics are melancholic enough for you to mellow out to but intelligent enough to keep you engaged, too. "Don't you ever feel like a place doesn't exist unless you've been there?" Walsh questions as the riff just starts to take off again, coming full circle for the chorus that'll be going around you head long after the song has ended: "picking up dust, picking up dust…"
Guitar work is a fundamental foundation of this record. The pedals and effects Walsh and his band use to create the most bizarre sounds often work with the later riffs to substitute choruses' a lot of the time, leaving you being hooked in by these crunchy guitar sounds that are enveloped between a funky bassline and pulsating synths. 'Sad Shape' is the perfect example of this, with Walsh shouting "1! 2! 3! 4!" before the band launch into this jam session that really reminds me of Olympia, WA's hideously underrated band Gun Outfit.
What I like the most about Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen is that unlike most other weirdo psych-rock, bedroom-rock bands, the hooks aren't just in the shorter sub-two-minute jams that tend to just throw hooks in your face. A lot of the tracks on here – the beautiful 'Darkness' and slacker-anthem 'TV Shows' for example – are over four minutes long, and build up a substantial tune whilst reeling you in at the same. It's refreshing to say the least, and more bands need realise that it's okay to go off on a tangent and throw in some wibbly-wobbly, questionable sci-fi effects to add more meat to your track! Dignan Porch get bonus points for backing these sounds up with a UFO on the album art too, so props for that guys.
90's indie - a la Bakesale era Sebadoh - really shines through on my favourite track 'TV Shows'. "She was so long ago / like a cancelled TV show," croons Walsh before embarking on a raw garage rock guitar solo that explodes into an anthemic breakdown. It's one of the slower songs, but as luck would have it, your urge to speed it up a bit is fulfilled with 'Cancelled TV Shows' – which is essentially the same song! It applies the same melody but at about twice the pace. It's a ballsy move to say the least and certainly a cheeky one – but it works because Dignan Porch are so good at what they do. They're utterly charming, and tongue-in-cheek moves like that are welcome if you've got the tunes to back your attitude up with, and they do. You won't even think a 47-second interlude track is taking the piss, as not only is it enjoyable but it leads into the closer 'You Win, You Win' perfectly, ending the record in just the right place.
Dignan Porch are the kind of band who don't aspire to be like the bands that influence them – they seek to better them. To challenge what their idols have crafted before and push the boundaries that they defined. They haven't quite got there yet, because they're not doing anything entirely new – but they channel their influences flawlessly and add enough of their own spark into the mix that it sounds refreshing. Fuzzy bedroom psych-pop just got revitalized, folks.