The return of Aaron Maine’s synth-pop moniker Porches acts as a pleasant start to 2018. His melodies are more consistent than ever, but the end result is his patchiest release since Slow Dance In Cosmos.
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. Yes, the synthy ballads are very much present, but instead of a dreary presence lurking throughout, Maine channels that same self-induced melancholia into songs that seem to borrow a few tricks from the Detroit-techno playbook. On “Find Me,” Maine finds himself cooing behind his most aggressively electronic track, a stunning and consistently surprising introduction to his latest chapter of hipster club bangers.
Whereas tracks such as “Akeren” and “Anymore” continue this trend of techno-influenced production, the spare manner of “Leave the House” and “Country” keep a steady contrast for an album that, unfortunately, is nowhere as consistent as Pool.
This isn’t to say that The House is by any means a “bad” album — in fact, it’s better than virtually any release of 2018, thus far — but, expectations can often lead to a wave of disappointment, and The House is a living embodiment of this phenomenon.
However, it should be said that the trance-like state in which Maine’s production wafts through the air is indeed a pleasantry, and a refreshing one at that. The House is a morose and unpredictable assortment of songwriting, one that, if caught at the right moment, can be pretty persuasive. His grooves can often be undeniably catchy, and, with a little help from Dev Hynes — aka Blood Orange — as well as up-and-coming production powerhouse Bryndon Cook (Solange, Blood Orange) the fate of The House can often be promising, but hardly prevails.
Even the jazzy backsplash of “W Longing” can’t save the direction in which Maine took The House. Though his songwriting can be sultry — and at times almost seductive — Maine’s nearly aimless approach to the order of The House leaves something to be desired. Though longtime fans of Porches — or any of Maine’s work — will never get another Pool, The House makes for a fulfilling, if not occasionally excellent listen and addition to Maine’s discography.