Judy Berman

Jun 30 2012

Porcelain Raft — Strange Weekend

There was a lot of talk about Porcelain Raft around the time Strange Weekend came out at the beginning of the year. I can’t remember why I gave in and listened to the album, because the band name and the title and the descriptions I was reading all pointed to “post-chillwave escapist thing that will bore you.” But for whatever reason, I played it and fell in love with it, and then was pretty baffled when the reviews finally came in and the verdict was basically “decent for what it is,” because I had realized it wasn’t just that. Halfway through the year, it seems all but forgotten.

Yes, it’s often as floaty and whispery as you might expect from a project called Porcelain Raft. But the best moments aren’t the diaphanous ones. Strange Weekend isn’t a regressive, childhood-obsessed album; it’s romantic and sad, and the memories it evokes aren’t idealized. “Shapeless & Gone” is one of the most perfect songs of the year. The images are powerful: “In a strange kind of way, lifeless landscapes have so much to say / It’s hard to sleep tonight, in my head, buildings are collapsing.” The music isn’t just diffuse and psychedelic; there’s some jangly strumming and a draggy slowness that, at moments, feels just like a big burst of Jesus and Mary Chain. Strange Weekend isn’t just zone-out music, either — there are upbeat songs interspersed at just the right moments, like “Put Me to Sleep,” a subtle synthpop energy boost that’s muted enough not to devolve into ’80s revivalist pastiche.

This is all to say that if you pre-judged this album and ignored it, the way I almost did, or listened to it once and moved on to the next thing, maybe you should give it another spin and see what you find.

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