On their sophomore follow-up to 2016’s Pool, electronic outfit Porches has delivered an expertly crafted assortment of melancholic synthpop gems that manage to feel as original as they do warmly familiar. The House, though built firmly on a foundation of electronic music, takes strong cues from the musical intuition of various contemporary indie artists. Alex Giannascoli, of (Sandy) Alex G, is one of several collaborators on this new record. The low-fi musings and unique arrangement style of Giannascoli’s work comes through very clearly as an influence on several
tracks. The album opens with the beautiful “Leave the House”, which ends with the voice of Giannascoli crooning a second lyric and melody in counterpoint to the primary refrain. Tracks like “Wobble” and “Country” see a mood and intimacy reminiscent of Alex G’s Beach Music shine in an unabashedly synthpop context.
Alongside other collaborators like Frankie Cosmos and Devonte Hynes of Blood Orange, Porches frontman Aaron Maine has synthesized a unique sound that captures what it is to be a twenty-something confronted with the somber realities of a fledgling adulthood. Songs are brief, doleful glimpses into self-doubt, trust, loneliness, boredom, romantic longing, and all the things you ponder at 11 AM, staring listlessly at your bedroom ceiling. The gray, overcast January sky barely delivers a stream of dreary light through sloppily drawn blinds. That’s the sound of The House.
Plodding synth basses, locked in with the steady, trancelike pulse of the drum machine, provide a bed upon which Maine can tastefully rest beautiful layers of piano, pitch-corrected vocals, a diverse assortment of synth pads, guitars with light, wobbly tremolo, and even (as on “W Longing”) saxophone. Perhaps the low point on the album comes with the back to back pairing of “Åkeren” and “Anymore.” The former makes questionable use of Norwegian spoken word, and the latter is weighed down by its reliance on electronic cliches, which is far more noticeable here than anywhere else on the album. This brief detour excepted, the tracking on this record is quite consistent and allows The House to sustain a very well articulated mood throughout.
The album comes to a close with the emotional, atmospheric “Anything U Want.” Maine seems to heave one final, heavy sigh before rolling begrudgingly out of the beautifully made bed that is this record. The last synth fades out into the sound of people talking outside, birds chirping, distant trains and cars moving. The past 37 minutes found an escape from the monotony of this reality. But only for a time. Stepping outside, you lightly close the door of The House behind you as you pick up right where you left off…
Favorite tracks: “Country”, “By My Side”, “Wobble”, “Ono”
by Connor Anderson
The opinions expressed above are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of WRSU-FM, its staff, management, or Rutgers University.