Music Reviews

Porches Pool

(Domino) Rating - 5/10

Porches don’t come across as particularly likable on their first release under Domino imprint, Pool. There’s a standoffish quality to their faux-ironic seduction that intends to characterize a feeling of deep dissatisfaction, where main songwriter Aaron Maine expects us to feel pathos for his downwardly synth melodies. But how are we supposed to care when he’s too strung-out to begin with, as he constantly wallows in excessive self-contemplation and with hardly a sharp thoughtfor us to even take a peak into his lamentation.

Instead, Pool is like stepping into Maine’s ambling dream, one where he trivializes his emotions in a series of tedious mundanities that fail to distinguish his subjective thoughts. Maine usually breaks down his verses into minimal rhyme schemes, usually centered around a distant observer who makes up these ideal conversations in his head: in Underwater, he thinks of ideal scenarios for reconciliation as he lits up a joint, while in Security he yearns for a way to find some stability in his life. Besides the obvious references to water, presented in shiftless metaphors ("So in my stoner hour/ oh how I float/ just wondering about her"), Maine makes us hard to feel for his sensitive nature when we only get a slight glimpse into the innate workings of his mind.

And speaking of slight, Maine does take that exact approach in approaching an unrefined electronic sound. His tinkering with new gadgets as opposed to the sauntering electric/acoustic folk of 2013’s Slow Dance in the Cosmos is immediately noticeable, assembling cleanly synth tones that are as comparatively polished to those dime-a-dozen Yamaha DX 7 melodies you’d hear on the radio during the eighties. His amateurish approach is very hit and miss in terms of execution: the strolling groove Main employs on Mood conjures the harmonic sophistication of Script Politti on a high-dosage of Lorazapem, while the title track dissects a dance-pop sound (auto tune-enhanced, to boot) to its barest components. Perhaps the most representative of his scrappy approach is Be Apart, which tacks on a pixelated melody alongside a slinking groove that’s fully earned.

Maine does enhance those smooth, crystalline tones with an affronting indifference in Pool, hoping to see if any of it sticks despite its unrealized potential. His boyish sensibilities alongside his weary, romantic croon does grate, and especially so considering he’s taking a musical approach that automatically puts him in a more vulnerable place. But in trying to find his groove back, Maine’s insular stiffness fails to provide any plausible authenticity.