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The House Sammy Maine , January 19th, 2018 11:16

The move from indie rock to synth pop is complete, and this is Porches’ best record yet

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. On ‘Find Me’, he crafts a tangible desperation, afraid to succumb to his vulnerabilities. The melancholy is presented through almost bombastic instrumentation, mimicking the loneliness of New York dancefloors and the affirmation we can seek in night-time escapades. It’s a cathartic declaration of an otherwise suffocating disclosure.

His lyrics are simple and poignant. Water is once again a recurring theme - “I go swimming deep into the lake, it gets me so clean” on ‘Swimmer’, “I escape from the blue, like the steam coming off the pool” on ‘Ono’ - and while it’s long been a metaphor for Maine’s despondency, it also brings a hopeful, soft beauty. As described in the poem that accompanies first single ‘Country’, the act of swimming and breaking through water is also an act of arriving somewhere new.

Whether on the hushed delivery of ‘Wobble’ or the urgency in ‘Now The Water’ and ‘Goodbye’, The House also sees Maine expand his vocal skills. The small shifts in technique on each track mark a songwriter who understands the strength in subtlety. Even the heavy autotuning in ‘W Longing’ and ‘Understanding’ highlight the very human lyrics. This subtlety is mimicked through the textured sonic presentation - each note feels focused and necessary. Maine gives us a chance to breathe, dipping in and out of bass-heavy backdrops and breaking up the album with interludes, making time for plaintive reflection.

The album has a number of guest vocalists, most notably (Sandy) Alex G on album opener ‘Leave The House’ and Dev Hynes and Bryndon Cook on lead single ‘Country’. In fact, this is his most collaborative work to date - ironic, perhaps, considering its themes of isolation.

On The House, Maine is vulnerable, honest and strong - he soars on this, his best album yet.