Porches’ latest LP Pool submerges listeners in a dreary, sun-warped soundscape that makes for an engaging introspective experience — perfect for late night drives and dark rooms.
As of late, ’80s synth pop has seen a resurgence in mainstream indie/alternative music. Bands like Walk The Moon take inspiration from Talking Heads and turns it into neon-windbreaker-clad dance parties.
In many ways, Porches draws from the same ’80s synth pop influences when crafting their sound. The wobbly synths, palm muted guitars, chugging basslines and skeletal percussion have a strong presence. Porches, however, uses ’80s synth to create a sound far more somber and melancholic than the top radio-single alternative bands of today.
On Pool, the neon windbreakers are left hanging in the closet, and the dance party is probably happening somewhere down the street.
Lead singer Aaron Maine’s airy and emotive voice reinforced the mopey and gloomy aesthetic of the album.
Maine keeps things minimal, and each lyric feels like a lost soul wrote it in the margins. He takes an introspective approach to writing — talking about personal struggles with loneliness and detachment.
In the song “Be Apart,” Maine contemplates leaving the confines of his home to at long last rejoin the outside world he feels he has lost touch with. During the chorus, his vocal phrasings fluctuate and harmonize in a way that pulls at the heartstrings.But the most profound introspective moments on Pool seem to come when there are no vocals at all. On each track Maine steps in to deliver food for thought, and then steps away to let you digest and think for yourself as the soundscapes envelop you.
For example, on the track “Shaver” Maine emotes his feelings of longing using a number of lyrics you could count with your fingers. Then, just as he conveys the lyrical message, the vocals fade away and a saxophone solo cuts through the lonely production, providing a platform for the listener to reflect upon.
These reflective downtimes, or reading-between-the-lines moments during Pool are ultimately what make it such a profound emotional experience.
Just because the album is somber and introspective does not mean it feels lifeless. There are moments on this LP that groove and bounce.
A few tracks could even be considered danceable. Songs like “Be Apart” and “Car” both have popping beats that instill the need to move, but are perhaps more conducive to reserved toe tapping and head bobbing rather than full dance club frivolity.
Pool sets out to achieve a very specific aesthetic and executes it extremely well. It offers an escape from the world, but at the same time extends a comforting invite to rejoin whenever you’re ready.
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly identified “Pool” as “Pool.” The Badger Herald regrets this error.