Anorak News | Portable Radio – ‘Portable Radio’ (Crimson Crow Records, 2011)

Portable Radio – ‘Portable Radio’ (Crimson Crow Records, 2011)

by | 22nd, March 2021

Portable Radio have been chugging along nicely with a handful of releases, kicking off with the baroque pop double-header ‘Seven Hills’/’Parades’ and a pair of releases in the form of a smart Christmas Selection Box and a self-titled EP, filled with rich harmonies and killer pop sensibilities.

Now, with the release of the debut album – again eponymous – Portable Radio signalled the end of winter with lead track ‘Hot Toddy’, a slice of perfect pop that has echoes of The Zombies and current West Coast darlings, Drugdealer.

In the digital age, bands have been allowed to let their songs meander and sprawl, with LPs running as long as they please in a bid to fudge the streaming system with length rather than precision – but there’s none of that with this analogue gem – 11 tracks, totalling just over 30 minutes, with each song treated like its own single to hover around the 3-minute mark. The Lovin’ Spoonful always treated their album cuts with the same due care and attention as the hits, and its clear Portable Radio are carrying that same torch.

There are flashes of the Electric Light Orchestra, Hall & Oates, Carole King, post Beatles McCartney, and the pure pop of ABBA, The Carpenters, and a host of bubblegum psychedelia and West Coast magic.

Tracks like ‘Rise Above’ find the band in more reflective mode, but it still gallops along, with aching brass and the kind of fond observation you might find in say, Gilbert O’Sullivan or Weyes Blood. ‘Darling, Hold On’ and ‘Colour Me Impressed’ are kitchen sink dramas, loaded up to high heaven with layers of angelic vocals and bruised instrumentation, while ‘Should’ve Bounced’, ‘The Switch’ and ‘Worse Case Scenario’ and power pop bops that’ll have you out of your seat.

The band themselves swap lead vocal duties and swap instruments, dragging their friends along for the ride, with an LP that’s free of much of the naval gazing that understandably crept its way into many releases during these dark, weird times. While the sound is steeped in the perfect pop of the past, this isn’t some tedious facsimile of years gone by – it’s sounding fresh and pointing to a more hopeful period when we’re all able to mess around outside and get a cuddle and let the hysterical politicians and talking heads wither on the vine.

It’s an assured LP that sounds like Portable Radio have been around forever. If you’re in the market for fantastic 3-minute pocket symphonies, the Portable Radio’s debut album is the one for you.

Buy the album

Posted: 22nd, March 2021 | In: Music Comment | TrackBack | Permalink