Some thoughts while listening to Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen:
Bedroom recordings of one person imitating a full band kind of carry the subconscious notion of “wouldn’t it be cool if this were done with a real full band?” This being the second Dignan Porch album, it’s the first not done entirely by Joe Walsh (of the UK; not that Joe Walsh). Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen captures a group of people playing together, and it’s a good indication that Dignan Porch isn’t stuck on the idea of “what got you there will keep you there.”
Even outside of the bedroom, Nothing Bad is still somewhat stuck in the bedroom: it’s the motive/mood of the act of the bedroom as listening space, the youth ideal, of which the bedroom is the center of the universe. Dignan Porch may have left the bedroom, but they still make music for it.
One thing to learn from John, Paul, and George (Ringo with help, yuk yuk yuk) is how to write a great pop song with a guitar or keyboard. One thing not to learn from them is how to sequence, especially by the time you get to the post-breakup albums. Lennon’s Imagine is all sorts of a mess; Harrison’s All Things Must Past doesn’t need two versions of the same song, plus a slew of aimless jams (one called, for Christ’s sake, “Thanks For The Pepperoni”). I’m not even getting into the Paul side…
While Nothing Bad has great, well-written, dynamic pop songs, the album suffers from length. The songs are of great pop construction, sure, but the album is far too long and loses its steam by the end. Some of the latter songs could very well have been saved for another album or EP, and the album could have gained itself a strength in brevity. Even though it functions as a document, this gesture doesn’t always extend from the creator to the listener and can aid in the loss of language. Plus “TV Shows” comes up again as “Cancelled TV Shows,” fulfilling the “Isn’t It A Pity” prophesy.
III: Kids being kids writing lyrics about things kids do
One of the most hated ideas I had as a kid was this notion of my high school times being so god damned important. Every adult in all sorts of ranges of age kept pressing the idea that “this is where your whole life happens.” Turns out, I was right and that this sentiment is total bullshit. Life happens while it is happening, and it is always happening while you’re alive.
I’m not sure if there’s statistical data for youth optimism vs. pessimism, but if it overwhelmingly balances onto the delusional optimist side, I won’t be all that surprised. I was never one of these; I was all gloom and doom. This doesn’t prevent me from liking Nothing Bad; on the contrary, I feel that its optimism places things in the right order. This is an album about the relentless optimist, of almost Candide-like quality. The world falls apart, banks plunge the financial condition of first world countries into anger and class separation, civil wars rage, and somewhere out there a young boy thinks about past relationships. Meanwhile, his mother is being eaten by a nuclear wolf.
I have a friend, a visual artist, who hopes that the term “originality” will be erased. Actually, destroyed or obliterated would be better terms to use; he doesn’t just want to see the artistic scale weigh away from the side market of originality; he wants the whole arm to break off. To more or less of a copycat opinion, I agree. I don’t see why so much weight should be given to an artistic notion that exists on arbitrary terms. Indeed, that which is considered “original” is usually not done so without a context to either time/space or other works. It’s a notion that has its hopes in some wrong places, something that seems to anger creators and critics in opposite ways: critics are mad at creators for being “unoriginal,” and creators are mad at critics for holding “originality” up as the ideal. So it goes, so it goes…
I’m not above having moments of deep-seated, angry criticism, nor am I always in defense against ideals. However, I do generally believe that discussion with the art/music/ideas holds greater value than that which asks more of an artist outside of the conversation in which they work and create.
Dignan Porch: you are not original, and there is nothing wrong with that. Your influences are on your sleeve; you sound a lot like the musicians and ideas/ideals whose past you probably over-glorify, and why not? Your own nostalgia is not necessarily your own, but if you’re going to swing with those ideas, you might as well cozy up. We all have to be influenced by something, and it seems you’ve found yours, however quaint or cliché it might be.