Aug 15, 2013 Web Exclusive
Mauro Remiddi returns with his second full-length after last year's Strange Weekend. The title refers to a phone line that's off the hook (remember hooks?) without a connection for a long time, a stand-in for Remiddi's own inability to really connect with loved ones during a year on the road (what would second or third albums be without the rigors of the road?). Remiddi says that upon his return, he found himself inspired by those detached feelings (plus those of transitioning back to the workaday world), and ended up selling most of the instruments used to craft Strange Weekend. This is a new beginning with a new sonic palette. And a more expansive one—Strange Weekend was intimate and hazy, with a synth/drum-machine focus and gauzy bedroom-recording appeal, whereas this time out there are live instruments (drums, cello, and trumpet, to name a few) and a sonic leap to studio quality. It suits Remiddi's music, making the old stuff seem comparatively claustrophobic despite its dreaminess. In many ways it follows the trajectory of the inevitably mentioned Beach House (kindred spirits in vocal androgyny and soaring melodies), though Remiddi seems to latch onto sheer melancholy more than his more aloof indie pop counterparts. Porcelain rafts don't float.
Re: floating/sinking, Remiddi opens the album with "Think of the Ocean," a pulsating, down-tempo track built on a creaky synth pattern, speckled with live piano and cello, Remiddi emoting with "If I could take off this mask/Will you laugh at me?" and asking "Are you going insane?" before the tune climaxes. "Cluster" picks things up with solid live drums and melodic guitar patterns/leads, with an explosive chorus ("Lord if you can hear me now") that will only serve to multiply those Beach House comparisons. No slam there; it's just that Remiddi and Victoria Legend both have these other-worldly, near-genderless voices that infuse their tunes with weightlessness. "Night Birds" really digs in the claws—inconspicuous at first, it erupts in a hook-and-a-half (remember hooks?) chorus pairing big string synths with ample yearning: "You say you want to see me now/But now I just don't want to know/I've been living with these feelings for so long/And I don't need to make sense of you anymore." While a few songs such as "I Lost Connection" drift beyond Remiddi's flare for the gentle into saccharine territory, that permanent signal he's so earnestly trying to communicate still comes through loud and clear. (www.porcelainraft.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 8/10