Porcelain Raft

Permanent Signal

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What a difference a year makes. Porcelain Raft's 2012 debut Strange Weekend resembled what might happen if MGMT fully gave in to the trend of chillwave, and the 2013 follow-up reflects a much colder time. You could think of this as the insular winter album that comes after a summer of fun. Mauro Remiddi mans the helm again, writing and composing all the music, but the setting has changed from his basement to the Antlers' studio, with Darby Cicci working the boards and playing bass, and Jonny Rogoff on drums. Aside from a more melancholic mood, perhaps the biggest changes are found in the understated moody compositions, the glacial chamber reverbs, and the newly apparent '90s Brit-pop influences. Certain songs, like the Stone Roses/Spiritualized-styled "Minor Pleasure" feel like bittersweet anthems, as does "Night Birds," which has a distinct, darkly romantic feeling of a The Bends-era Radiohead power ballad. Elsewhere, "Think of the Ocean" and "It Ain't Over" are propelled by skittering electronic soundscapes. A few minor-key piano ballads take the album into an even wearier place, while the soaring "A Way Out" works paranoia into grandiose heights, and "Five Minutes from Now" demonstrates that Porcelain Raft can work an e-bow instrumental into a thickly layered emotional piece worthy of Sigur Rós. While Permanent Signal isn't nearly as instantaneous as Remiddi's breakout album, there is a greater sense of depth, and the music carries more weight. As it stands, this is a strangely seductive record, filled with remarkable musical peaks, and proof positive that an ambitious sophomore departure can be wholly satisfying.

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