By Jason Herring, March 18 2016 —
Aaron Maine doesn’t sound like he’d be much fun to hang out with. On Pool, his second full-length release under the Porches alias, the New York indie-pop crooner sings songs that simultaneously mourn and celebrate an insular lifestyle.
It’s clear that Maine has a lot to say in this album. But his lyrics are far from captivating. Instead, he sings uncomfortable, stilted sentence fragments. Some lines, like the cringe-worthy “in my loner hour, I turn to my twin bed for power,” are difficult to take seriously.
Porches sets these words atop funky arrays of synthesizers and restless drum beats. This contrast between the album’s sultry nightclub sound and Maine’s obtuse vocals works only sporadically.
But when the mix works, Porches sounds immaculate, like on lead single “Be Apart.” The reserved track subsists on a deceivingly catchy Casio riff and a strong performance by Maine, who steps away from vocal modulation for the cut. It’s a rare moment of life on the often dreary album.
“Car” is the album’s other great track, featuring a climax of bass drums and swelling synths that demand attention. Tracks like “Hour” are notable for great backup vocals and creative instrumentation, while “Security” serves as a solid closer for the album.
Pool’s biggest misstep is that it sounds, apart from these few highlights, like the same song played on repeat. Pulsating synthesizers and murmured vocals aren’t a terrible formula, but there needs to be more variations on the theme.
Porches’ sophomore effort shows glimpses of brilliance, but stumbles far too often to be a worthwhile release. It will be interesting to see how Maine expands his sound in upcoming releases.