Porches: The House review – beguiling, flawed dance-warmed pop


Despite having graduated from dirge-like indie to downbeat but danceable synthpop over the course of their first two albums, Porches (otherwise known as singular New Yorker Aaron Maine) don’t change tack again on their third. Instead, The House doubles down on Maine’s previous fusion of dance music and languid crooning, weaving house flavours into a record that can feel emotionally one-note, but sonically beguiling.

Refreshingly, Maine largely eschews the increasingly wearisome tropes of contemporary synthpop (snappy drums, patchworks of treated vocal samples): opener Leave the House sees his listless vocal underlaid with a warm, pulsating synth line that recalls Robin S’s Show Me Love, while follow-up Find Me brings its dance-music influences into the foreground, pairing a slow, sad top-line with a driving house beat. Elsewhere, Maine starkly Auto-Tunes his voice over layered beats (Anymore), takes guitar twang to an extreme (Wobble) and, on Åkeren, hands over the mic to a (presumably) sultry Norwegian singer.

The latter track’s stirring intimacy has the unfortunate effect of flagging up just how flat and whiny Maine’s own vocal can be; his voice largely fails to draw you into the lyrics, which allude to a sense of sadness and dread without ever crystallising into something truly affecting. One exception, however, is the gorgeous Country, on which he makes the drabness of his voice into a feature, dragging out syllables so they descend into a croaky, vulnerable rattle. It also sees Maine return to the subject of water. A recurring theme in Porches’s back catalogue (their second album was titled Pool, The House’s tracklist includes Swimmer and Now the Water); here it is put to the service of an impressionistic portrait of a barely solidified love affair, in which the participants swim together suggestively. It’s the most fully-realised song on an album whose messages can be watery, but Porches’ tendency to swim upstream is satisfying nonetheless.


Rachel Aroesti

The GuardianTramp

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