Progressively Wide Awake
With two fairly well-received full-lengths and nearly a half-dozen EPs under his belt, one would imagine Mauro Remiddi would be close to perfecting Porcelain Raft’s post-chillwave sound; instead, his project’s newest EP Half Awake sees the Italian artist adopting adventurously proggy tendencies that produce widely varying results. While there were some moments on their debut LP Strange Weekend that hinted towards a prog-rock influence, the bold and singular charge down this path of album-oriented electronic-rock is unexpected.
From the Getty Lee-meets-Steve Perry opening vocal lines of “Leave Yourself Alone” to the rich barroom-influenced instrumentation of the closing track, “Something is After Me,” the album is fanciful and a touch whimsical. Remiddi’s lyrical gems such as “Dinosaurs buried in the ocean” and “I look up, I put my glasses on, here they are / Giant insects are eating the sun” only further establish the feeling that Half Awake would be the perfect soundtrack to a fantasy-based TV movie.
Despite containing the head-scratching line about dinosaurs in the ocean, “All in My Head” is actually a refreshing break from the rest of the EP’s progressive tendencies. Featuring much more subdued vocal work, the track offers up a heaping helping of electro-pop and a memorable chorus that hums along at a decent clip. The next track, “Love Chain,” somewhat hilariously appropriates the vocal melody of “November Rain,” especially because it matches the line-for-line earnestness of Axl Rose’s 1991 opus. While at every turn it feels like Remiddi is about to belt out “And it’s hard to hold a candle / In the cold November rain,” the song is nicely layered with an acoustic rhythm guitar, rich electric keyboards and softly cooed vocals.
When the band emerged with their Secretly Canadian debut in 2012, many considered their music to be a next-level blend of classic and modern electro-pop sounds. As the years have passed, the artists most indebted to the chillwave movement have matured and shifted their sonic focus, and it feels as if Porcelain Raft has been left behind on Half Awake.