Dignan Porch

Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen

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Dignan Porch tiptoe a few steps farther out of the bedroom on Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen, their first album as a full-fledged band. Building on the Deluded EP, the group has cleaned up their sound significantly since 2010's Tendrils -- which was largely the work of frontman Joe Walsh -- but they're still far from slick: as they channel '90s lo-fi via '80s indie-pop and '60s psychedelia, Walsh's wavering vocals are still often buried under layers of fuzz and static, and he and his brother Sam's guitars jangle and swirl, leaving lysergic traces around the edges of their songs. However, Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen finds the band expanding the borders of its sound and songs; some approach or pass the five-minute mark, more than twice the length of most of Dignan Porch's previous tracks. While the brilliant brevity of "On a Ride" and "Like It Was" (which was wisely re-recorded in a superior version as "Like It Was Again" on Deluded) is missed, the band does some interesting things with this widescreen approach. Hayley Akins' keyboards elevate "Sad Shape" beyond grungy balladry, and later transform "Darkness" from a simple lament into what sounds like an alien abduction. Sam Walsh's solos get the spotlight on "Sleep with the Dead," a hypnotic track that recalls Dignan Porch forefathers th' Faith Healers and their later incarnation Quickspace, and on "Sixteen Hits," where he treats his stompbox the way his brother treats his heart. Still, Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen is often at its best when it lets Joe muse over long-ago heartbreak that still seems fresh, with less accompaniment to cushion its impact. "Picking up Dust" is a quintessential Dignan Porch song, with lyrics like "Somewhere else there's an old toy on the shelf picking up dust" conveying life's little tragedies with a wryness that only ends up making them sadder; "She Is Landing"'s gently downward-drifting melody and shambling conclusion evoke the best of their earlier work; while the devastating "And Now Are Not" swaddles its rage and grief over the end of a relationship in an innocent melody that sounds like the start of one. Meanwhile, the bittersweet slackerdom of "TV Shows" and its cheery reprise "Cancelled TV Shows" reflects Dignan Porch's growing range in a subtler way. As a portrait of the band's evolution, Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen has flashes of brilliance and moments where they're still figuring out what to do, but overall, it shows them growing into something new as gracefully as they can.

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