Release Date: Jan 19, 2018
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Like so many dispirited twenty-something musicians, Maine grounds his struggle for autonomy in romantic dejection. “I don’t want it to be clean/ I just want you on my team,” he confesses on “Leave the House,” acknowledging his desperation for companionship and authority before elucidating the necessity for self-destruction: “Need it to be how I need/ So I burn out to be free. ” Along with his preoccupation with emotional cleansing, Maine’s maudlin insistence on fidelity and personal agency comes across as no more a feint than Lana Del Rey’s trashy-opulent melodrama on Born to Die or David Longstreth’s self-important empathy on Dirty Projectors.
Isolation, introspection and water metaphors defined Porches’ second album, 2016’s ‘Pool’. On first listen to his third record, it might seem that the past two years have changed the newly bleach-blonde, earringed man behind Porches more than they have the music. But listen more closely, and you realise that New York’s Aaron Maine has noticeably sharpened the vision of his synthpop solo project. ‘The House’ seeks clarity in simplicity.
New Yorker Aaron Maine has made a promising career out of emotionally driven pop music for the sad and the soft-hearted, first on his 2013 album Slow Dance in the Cosmos and then on 2016’s Pool. The former was, at its core, a rock ‘n’ roll record, built largely around guitars and drums and embellished with electronic elements. The latter, on the other hand, featured lush synth arrangements and more vocal effects. On each, Maine delivered his shadowy tunes with healthy doses of melancholy and unease. Maine’s third album as Porches, The House, digs deeper into those feelings while also stripping back his arrangements, landing somewhere near the nexus of bedroom disco-pop and basic house music.
As Aaron Maine’s magnum opus under the moniker Porches, Pool, surfaced and practically dominated the indie scene in 2016, Maine’s future endeavors were unclear. When an artist makes something so lush and aesthetically pleasing, it often raises concerns of how their next project will turn out. Will the stripped-down, mellow synth-pop persevere, or will a style so specific and in debt to Beach House fall and begin to sound bland and predictable? On Maine’s latest collection of songs, The House, he chose a much more unique path.
Leaving behind the alt-rockier tendencies of leader Aaron Maine's earlier work, perhaps for good, Porches' third album, The House, returns to the haunting, singer/songwriter synth pop of 2016's Pool, the project's Domino label debut. Though still intimate in nature, The House welcomes a number of guests, including Blood Orange's Devont.
Aaron Maine’s second album as Porches, Pool, was so perfectly-titled, it could’ve warranted a permanent band name change. After the more ramshackle Slow Dance in the Cosmos, Maine injected his new album with a liquid lushness. At its best, it conveyed the feeling of submerging oneself in artifice, be it water purified through chlorine or Maine trying to find redemption through distractions (like the titular escape of ‘Car’).
On his 2016 release Pool, Aaron Maine swapped out the ramshackle guitar rock that had so far come to define his primary project Porches for a glitzy set of homemade beats. He applied the songwriting skills he had picked up as the leader of an indie band to an entirely new setting, one which allowed him to indulge the paranoia that had lurked around the edges of Porches so far, but never quite come to the forefront. The House, the third studio LP to Porches.
Why are we here? Why do we want to talk about another New York hermit who obsesses over himself and fiddles with cookie cutter beats like an oversized infant fiddles with Fischer Price toys? Why do people follow his precious wikkle Twitter diary of chicken scratch and eyelash loss? Why did anyone willingly dip into the anesthetic haze of 2016.
On 2016’s Pool, his second album as Porches and arguably his breakout record, Aaron Maine shifted the rock elements of his previous recordings into a more electronic landscape. The murky indie rock of 2013’s Slow Dance In The Cosmos gave way to synth-led introspection and crisp, shimmering bedroom pop. This journey continues with The House. Long has Maine wrestled with his sense of self, and on this work he offers an even bigger window into his isolation.
Of the four elements, not one of earth, air, or fire can quite compete with water when it comes to pure symbolic potency. Perhaps nobody knows this better than Porches lead-man Aaron Maine, who having impressed on ‘Pool’ and its subsequent demo renderings ‘Water’, has now brought his aquatic attachments to ‘The House’, the third full-length offering from Porches. Opening cut ‘Leave The House’ moves with a pounding snare and subdued synth line, inviting a solitude-seeking Maine to chime in with considered remarks like “I don’t wanna leave you out / I just wanna leave the house”.
There were lots of remarkable things about Pool, the 2016 album by New York’s Aaron Maine, who records dreamy electropop and electro dreampop as Porches. First, there was the impression of vaulting space between the hushed amplitude of his bass and the shimmering humidity of his synths. Then, there was the languorous character of his vocal melodies and the mesmeric evenness of his phrasing.