Pool, released on February 5th, 2016, is the second full-length album from Porches, the project of singer-songwriter Aaron Maine. Pool marks a distinct shift from 2013’s Slow Dance in the Cosmos, and it seems as if Maine is finally starting to single out his true sound.
No longer is Porches defined by distorted guitar lines and layered percussion; Pool has an entirely new sound dominated by smooth, 80’s-esque synth beats and detached, auto-tuned vocals. The closing track of Slow Dance in the Cosmos has Maine singing “I wanna go dancing in the public eye,” and Pool shows that it’s finally time for him to do so. The tracks each have a techno beat that is unfailingly groovy, with synth melodies and funky bass lines that demand the listener move along with them. At times, the vocals seem distant and emotionally detached, standing in contrast to the energetic nature of the instrumentals. Upon closer listening the lyrics themselves are melancholy or apathetic, and they perhaps reveal an inner conflict of Maine’s: does he want to be “a part of it all” or “apart of it all,” as he sings in “Be Apart”? The answer is unclear, as murky as the album itself.
The theme of being underwater is prominent through the entire album, from the lyrics to the musical mood to the album title itself. The layered synth melodies and vocals (especially those of Maine’s girlfriend and collaborator Greta Kline, better known as musician Frankie Cosmos) create a moody space for the listener, like the dark unknown that lies underneath the water’s surface. The opening track, “Underwater,” describes slipping into a pool, and Maine seems to remain there under the water until the album’s close. The smooth techno sound makes everything feel slower somehow, as if it is existing in “honey slow motion” as Maine sings in the title track. Pool creates a dreamy space of synth pop for the listener, as if we too are suspended in slow motion underwater or in Maine’s stoned headspace.
Pool is groovy yet subdued, and brings an unexpected sense of conflict into seemingly relaxed emotions. The album is sure to draw more attention to Porches in the public eye, and future releases will likely reveal further emotional and musical progression from Maine as he copes with these changes. Pool is highly recommended and proves great potential for Porches in the future.