“That’s all I need, to sit in the sun,” sings Porcelain Raft, aka Mauro Remiddi, during the beautifully titled ‘Unless You Speak from Your Heart’. Coming midway through Remiddi’s debut album, it’s a line that sums up the feeling for the majority of the Rome-native’s record. Sounding beautifully lazy for large parts, it’s perfect for sauntering through the early spring morning light. A gentle, spacey pick-me-up (despite the romantic travails of much of the lyrics) before a day’s work perhaps. The early stages are the most seductive; when Remiddi remembers that his ghostly, over-dubbed vocals work best when clashing with some genuine rhythm. Starting out with the warm, demo-feel of ‘Drifting In and Out’, there’s other highlights like the hypnotic guitar line amongst the looped mesh of ‘Is it Too Deep for You’, which drifts into the equally superb ‘Put Me to Sleep’. Shoegazing has rarely sounded so good.
One of the record’s main disappointments, the completely aimless ‘Shapeless and Gone’ also comes early though, and it paints a blueprint for the other missteps. Bogged down in simple, plodding form on ‘The End of Silence’ and even the aforementioned ‘Unless You…’ Remiddi – who has had a varied musical education that takes in working with bands in London, New York, Berlin and apparently carrying out piano duties for a tap dance troupe – sometimes takes initially great ideas and sugar coats them in all the wrong ways. If he’s not adding yet more loops, he’s causing ugly clashes between ill-fitting echoed vocals. Listen to Strange Weekend in its entirety and it’s hard to get away from how these lesser moments ultimately detract from the genuine excellence elsewhere. Then again surviving the rough times makes you appreciate the graceful romance of the finale, ‘The Way In’, all the more.