Once a lo-fi indie band, Porches return with a second dip into the synthpop aesthetic following 2016’s Pool, which too is enveloped in wavy synths, tasteful autotune and sparkling house-esque production. Aaron Maine’s beautifully innocent and honestly unspectacular voice adds to what makes Porches one of my favourite contemporary bands, where simple lyrical content slides underneath stellar instrumentation to produce a calmingly intimate and inoffensive atmosphere that drips with genuine heart and feel.
To be clear, Porches aren’t doing anything new on The House, and, yes, autotune is still a prevailing musical technique regardless of it being 2018, however they still confidently express these debatable realities to knockout effect. Unlike the spineless synthpop that is saturating the modern pop scene, Porches harnesses pulsating basslines, house-flavoured synth work and expressive weirdness (see “Wobble” and “W Longing”) alongside traditional instrumentation and bouncy percussion, making The House a consuming, full-sounding listen. The interesting album structure where short, fitting tracks bridge the longer songs works surprisingly well, and coupled with the thematic trope of steadily building tracks (visit “Goodbye”) an affectionate narrative is built and exemplified. It’s wavy, in the best way possible.
Although straightforward, Maine’s lyrics are nonetheless touching, loving and equally longing. Single and standout track “Find Me” sees him croon, “Touch my neck and walk me home”, or even his father Peter on “Understanding”, “teach us of the one and perfect love that passes all understanding”. It’s heartfelt and honest, simply lovely. Smother yourself in feelings as the guitars follow the stunning vocal chorus on “Now the Water”, or the swallowing duet between Maine and strings on “By My Side”, whilst incredible track “Ono” mixes echoed guitar, fitting autotune and a staggering house buildup into the climax of the record.
Although admittedly not unique or groundbreaking and suffers minimally from some of the relatively undercooked bridges between standout tracks, The House spells everything fantastic about contemporary pop music and its timeless ability to capture emotion and musical beauty just as capably any other genre.
And look, you need to give credit to a respectable use of autotune in any release.