Speaks volumes about Porches’ long-term potential.
Imagine if the romantic-sounding, club-ready music you heard on the radio was actually really good, and that’s what this album sound likes. The House is the third album by Porches aka Aaron Maine, the mastermind behind the group, and the follow-up to 2016’s celebrated Pool.
Listening to The House, it is immediately clear that this is just the kind of impressive effort fans of the band have been hoping for, with infectious beats and moving hooks galore, as well as a genuinely original vision for what electronic pop can achieve in terms of its sonic and emotional palette.
Tracks like “Find Me” sound like David Byrne-meets-synth-pop, with plenty of bedroom-ready pathos to boot. Likewise with “Now the Water,” with its beautifully layered backup vocals, commanding lead vocals and driving drum loop paired tastefully with its keyboard-driven arrangements.
The more danceable numbers are alternated with minimal, vocal-driven tracks, including the extremely affecting “Country,” which is perhaps the most emotional and romantic song of the album, despite lasting less than two minutes. “By My Side” features especially memorable and sincere lyrics—“I have no idea/ Who I’m seeing in the mirror”—while dancehall-inspired “Anymore” makes for one of the most musically expansive moments of the album.
Overall, the songs have the feeling of accomplished demos, but in the best way possible. There is an un-self-conscious quality that makes the heartfelt singing and lyrics pair well with the built-in nostalgia of the music, which sounds both reminiscent and of-the-moment. You can really hear what the building blocks of the songs are, which works to their advantage; one can hear their beauty in all their elemental nakedness, a soulful voice set against the bare bones of rhythm and quivering synth chords.
Guitar tracks emerge on “Wobble,” introducing a welcome discordant element to the mix; they return briefly in the 54-second long, Smiths-inspired “Swimmer” and then again on the especially vulnerable sounding “Ono,” which boasts a particularly inventive rhythmic track, mixing electronic elements with more organic sounding percussion.
Though a track like “W Longing” risks feeling a bit dialed-in, this is a very rare exception on the album as a whole, which sounds like the child Ariel Pink and Frank Ocean never had. The song “Goodbye” is so catchy you won’t believe it’s not on the “Stranger Things” soundtrack, and much of the album sounds like an alternate universe in which pop hits still actually mean something.
Overall, this is a self-assured and accomplished third album, one that speaks volumes about Porches’ long-term potential. This is a project poised for their masterpiece. For now, The House is pretty damn close.