Climbing out of the pool and into the house, New York synth pop extraordinaire Aaron Maine goes for grooves on this, his third album under the Porches name. ‘The House’ sees Maine snicker at his previous lo-fi efforts, but an acerbic, mild-mannered snicker, as even when creating polished, floor-filling dance music, he still holds onto the introspective moods that saw him receive critical acclaim on 2016’s ‘Pool’.
‘The House’ is all about perception. While ‘Pool’ was chilled, with steady, light thought, its follow-up confronts its almost-agoraphobic demons, invariably wondering how the world will judge you next. Opener ‘Leave the House’ is a melancholic, solo conversation, with a danceable beat, and cloudy backing harmonies from (Sandy) Alex G, one that sees Maine ponder whether to leave the house, to find something to think about. His constant, almost unemotive un-surface whimper can easily get grating, especially when coupled with ineffective lyrics, but at least the slick instrumental gives the listener something else to focus their mind on.
‘Find Me’ is a techno track for people who are self-conscious about their dancing, one with a wobbly instrumental, full of club synths and elastic beats. It’s essentially a response to the opener, as Maine is set on staying inside, clogging his mind with deep thoughts in his own way, with the song’s music making for some anarchic juxtaposition – it’s extrovert music, but just stay inside, fresh air’s for suckers.
The album bubbles along, with Maine supplying more grooves, some, like ‘Now the Water’, back up his autotuned moans quite nicely, others, like ‘Anymore’, just sound like they were stolen from any hack DJ’s CD collection, but you’d have to leave the house to do that, so that can’t be the case. ’W Longing’ is approvingly weird, perhaps a nod to LCD Soundsystem, and ‘Ono’, despite an electronic kick drum, stands out as an ode to Maine’s previous work, as a chilled, dream pop breather, with flange-soaked guitars.
Hearing an artist throw their feelings around for the entirety of an album can be very captivating, on ‘The House’, said approach is likely to result in a shrug from the listener, rather than a tear. At its best, its simply inoffensive, at its worse, Aaron Maine may as well be unconvincingly repeating the words “woe is me” over and over again. Not to sound unkind regarding his attempt at slamming some emotions into his music, but this doesn’t feel like the most ‘human’ of albums. Maybe some people will have a sad dance to it, maybe it’s entertaining enough on some level, but despite Aaron Maine’s greatest efforts, there’s no real substance on ‘The House’, it’s just bricks and mortar.
‘The House’ is out now via Domino. The albums full track listing is as follows…
01 Leave The House
02 Find Me
04 Now the Water
06 By My Side
12 W Longing
14 Anything U Want