Immediately after the completion of his critically-acclaimed 2016 album Pool, Aaron Maine, aka Porches, got to work on The House, his new full-length release. Indeed, a sense of continuity is clear, with the minimalism and airy synths that underpin his previous works sustained throughout his follow-up. However, the sequel is even more stripped back, witnessing Maine at his darkest and most personal yet.
Opening with an upbeat, dancey number, Maine explicitly channels the moody, club-y vibes of past tracks like 2016’s ‘Be Apart’. Standout tracks ‘Find Me’ and ‘Now the Water’ follow in a similar vein with the simple and repetitive computerised backdrop creating something just as likeable and catchy.
However, the record doesn’t lack depth: Maine candidly reflects on his experiences of anxiety and isolation, often tinging buoyant instrumentals with an underlying sadness. Lyrics are at times dark (“I’ll think about it ’til I’m empty”), and at others sentimental (“touch my neck and walk me home”), but they consistently embody a sense of loneliness and vulnerability.
The fourteen tracks, then, seem to function as a diary, with each entry an intimate insight into Maine’s state of mind, inviting the listener in, but only partially. This is especially true of pre-released single ‘Country’, a transient yet emotion-charged ballad featuring Dev Hynes (Blood Orange). It’s stripped-back composition is both melancholy and eerie, complemented by a Lynch-esque music video featuring an equally subdued Maine. It is soft and intricate, a fleeting but stark contrast to the more upbeat tracks, but striking nonetheless.
However, the brevity isn’t always effective. Auto-tune heavy ‘Understanding’, for example, feels incomplete and undeveloped; a cop-out rather than an interlude. ‘Swimmer’, the shortest track of the album at just 52 seconds, seems especially incongruous.
Though flimsy at times, The House is a detailed introspection, suited to both the dancefloor and those lonely nights in.
Photo Credit: Jason Nocito / northerntransmissions.com