Porches – The House Review

You can judge this album by its cover: you know there's going to be '80s synthesizers involved.
Domino Records, 2018
Purchase: Bandcamp / Amazon

7.0 / 10

After the big shift in sound from Porches‘ first and second albums, you might expect another from-left-field venture on the new The House. Well, dear reader, I have good and bad news for you. The good news is that Aaron Maine (the primary composer of Porches) has largely stuck to the same winning sounds of Pool. The bad news, however, is the diminishing returns that come with this release.

In case you missed it, Porches early recordings were four-track, lo-fi guitar rock. With Pool, the band put down the guitars and picked up synthesizers. By now, you’ve heard this story a million times before, right? But Pool was a nice record. Maine’s voice, at it’s all-time most disaffected, spoke to the themes of alienation throughout the music. “Be Apart”, the album’s prominent single, is a great example of this in action. For The House, Maine’s voice is similarly throaty (hand over heart, eyes closed, eyebrows raised). But the themes — ego, death, loneliness, heartbreak — feel like overkill at that point.

With Pool, Maine mentioned that he wanted people on the dance floor. Some of those tunes facilitated that, and it’s a great subversion: getting people to connect with one another over music about not connecting with others. But aside from a trap cymbal pattern every now and again, The House is more content on standing still and diving inward. The record is self-described as “a conscious effort in minimalism and honesty.” That’s achieved as much as you can get with ’80s-era synth plinks, but the better term would be “self-conscious.”

Oh, there are some contributions here from (Sandy) Alex G and Dev Hynes. But those collaborations aren’t as good as when Maine drops the pretense and goes it alone.

Key Tracks:
“By My Side”
“Anything U Want”
“Now The Water”

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