Friday, July 16, 2021

Music Review //
Porter Block
"Clean Up The Living Room"


In a bit of comfort, "Clean Up The Living Room" begins with two songs I am familiar with as singles- "Say Something Nice" and then "I Don't Wanna Wait".   This album title does make me question why we call a certain space the "living room" when we should be alive in all aspects of our apartment/house/etc but also it makes me feel like the living room is where we spend the most amount of time so aside from the bathroom perhaps it is the room which needs the most cleaning.  By contrast, we really only sleep in the bedroom so it doesn't seem to need to be cleaned quite as often.

The sound of Porter Block remains sounding like a mix of Genesis and Blue October to me.  All of those right notes are hit in a style which makes this sound like something from that late 1980's/early 1990's era of MTV when Tom Petty had some of the best videos on there.   To some extent though, Blue October does also capture this sound and so I feel as if it is a shining example of bringing the past into the present to create music for the future.  I also would not mind to Porter Block recreating all of the songs from Pixar films (such as "Toy Story") as these piano-based songs can feel like a better version of them.

While listening to these songs can give off the vibe of a pop single or just something that might brighten your day in terms of the aesthetic, the lyrics tend to struggle with the idea of fitting in and interacting with other members of society.   This is something I have felt for most of my life but coming out of the pandemic (which the world is still slowly doing) I feel like it is something people will feel even more because it's like we've been away from each other for so long we don't know how to act now when we see someone we don't know.  I've grown somewhat spoiled on lockdown, as I've disassociated myself from society and now must ease my way back into it.  

Throughout these songs you will likely either be lead by the piano keys or the guitar notes.  "Taking The Boat To Water" has this dreamy way about it which also makes it feel trippy and that's something only Porter Block can accomplish.   "Mine To Control" feels like a more pop-based song and then "Fallen" comes right after it as a darker, almost western feel but part of that might just be the context within the album also as the songs could feel differently when listened to on their own or in a playlist alongside other moods. (For example: standing up against pure pop songs, "Mine To Control" might not feel as pop)

I keep going back to Genesis but there was just this wild time in music when artists were on the radio and television who fused together elements of rock, blues, jazz and pop to form one sound which is what I also feel Porter Block does here.  "Clean Up The Living Room" would be a stand out album in the early 1990's when this sound was everywhere but it is an even more exceptional album in the present tense.  


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