You lay alone in a stranger’s backyard at the bottom of a swimming pool. A party is raging around you, though here, underwater, it is almost silent. The only sound reaching you is the muffled bass of an early 2000’s Eurodance track being enjoyed ironically. Silent, still and detached you can enjoy the peace of passivity. However, it is cold and wet and the price of peace is loneliness. So, do you re-join the party?
It is within this sentiment that Porches latest album Pool can be interpreted. Far removed from his intimate debut release –Slow Dance in the Cosmos– Aaron Maine (aka, Porches) holds us at a distance with his second official release. The warm guitar tones and spacious percussion of Slow Dance are substituted for Phil Collins-esque 80’s synths and electronic beats. Likewise, Maine adopts a refined dimension to his distinct vocal style, often using auto-tune to strip it of it’s raw, emotive power.
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Lehrmann
At first listen, Pool could be interpreted as an indie-pop/dance album that lacks the necessary elements to get people moving. Stand out track Mood certainly meets the criteria of a pristine indie-pop jam, though, it is really more of a finger-tapper than a dance-floor anthem. I would argue, however, that Pool’s disregard for your bodily movements is an essential function of the album. It could better be described as ‘the album that you play at that party that isn’t really a party because you and your friends don’t really like parties’. However, that may still be a little too inclusive.
At the crux of it, Pool isn’t an album about you. While Maine’s aptitude for producing interesting melodies with simple yet poignant lyrics draws the listener in, he also goes to great lengths to alienate us. Resulting in Pool becoming more of a performance than a traditional album. We are privy yet passive to Maine’s introspective examinations and he capitalizes on this with great skill. Regarding us from afar he contemplates joining in, crying “I wanna be a part, of it all” in Be Apart and immediately lamenting “I don’t want to be here” in Mood.
Pool, it seems, is a stepping stone for Maine. It displays all the conflicts of change and promises a greater album in the making. For me, Slow Dance in the Cosmos is still his best work, however, this should not undercut Maine’s achievement with Pool. Maine takes the characteristics we hold dear, the ones that made us seek his music out (reclusiveness, stoner culture, rejection of the mainstream) and flips them on their head. Making it very clear that we are already at the party and it is him sitting alone at the bottom of a pool contemplating his next move.
Regardless of his decision, I am very excited to hear it.