Porches – The House

The House is an album of rare balance and beauty, managing to evoke hefty emotions and ideas, while still feeling slight and ephemeral

Album Review by Lewis Wade | 16 Jan 2018
Album title: The House
Artist: Porches
Label: Domino
Release date: 19 Jan

The House, Aaron Maine's third album as Porches, is an incessantly earnest portrayal of love and regret, decay and change. It is never not self-serious as Maine's lilting voice takes a diaristic approach, singing personal songs full of longing and desire over computerised keys and synths.

Even more than 2016's Pool, this album places the focus firmly on the vocals. Maine positions himself as a sensitive soul, cooing poetry to work through his various emotional states, though it isn't always necessarily about what he's saying, but the way he delivers lines. Leave the House, Goodbye and Country (featuring Dev Hynes and Bryndon Cook) all sound gorgeous, while lyrics as vaguely ambiguous as 'Keep it dumb, make it soft' can be made to fit whatever emotional vehicle is required.

Synth and autotune permeate the album's arrangements, often in contrast to the subject matter. That's the case on Find Me, the most club-ready Porches song ever, whose bassy synths immediately set a high tempo, though Maine is hiding: 'I think that I'll stay inside... / I can't let it find me'. Anymore, by contrast, provides relief from emotional purgatory with a delightful percussion breakdown that leavens Maine's weighty feelings, approximating a balafon being fed through a computer.

A number of short tracks provide fleeting autotune glimpses into new ideas (Wobble, Understanding) or addendums to previous songs (Swimmer), giving the album some of its loveliest moments; short, delicate vignettes that never outstay their welcome.

W Longing finds Maine at his most measured, considered and precise. He removes any cloying instrumental choices to clear a path for sincerity, articulating his melancholic desire: 'I hold my breath / Motionless / My lungs fill with black air'.

The House is an album of rare balance and beauty, managing to evoke hefty emotions and ideas while still feeling slight and ephemeral, never forgetting that this could all slip through your fingers at any moment.

Listen to: Country, W Longing, Find Me