For fans, it can be nerve-wracking when one’s favorite artist or band makes a complete left-turn from their core sound. But, sometimes it works. Records like Cloud Nothings’ throat-curdling, blistering 2012 album Attack on Memory garnered new fans while simultaneously rejecting their past works. Other times, you might get something like Kid Cudi’s latest endeavor, the incredibly clunky Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. Fortunately, Porches’ new disco-like album Pool is a solid artistic endeavor that strays away from their bummer, country-tinged rock of yesteryear.
Hailing from New York, Porches’ (previously known as Porches.) Aaron Maine croons over funky guitar leads, electronic beats and washy synths on Pool. Songs like “Braid,” “Mood” and “Glow” are infectious numbers that warrant head-bobbing and cheesy finger wagging. Other songs such as “Shape” and “Even The Shadow” may sink listeners comfortably into their couches. And speaking of sinking, it’s no wonder why the record is named Pool given the numerous mentions of water and the garbled auto-tune present on many songs. Even with the opening track, “Underwater,” the beginning synth lines could perfectly soundtrack the initial submergence into water as bubbles flutter to the surface.
It is understandable why many longtime Porches fans may be skeptical of this new direction. I know I was when I first heard the lead single, “Hour.” And while it may not reach the cathartic heights of some past songs like “The Cosmos” off their instant classic Slow Dance in the Cosmos, Maine still shows stellar songwriting throughout the album, peaking with the groovy “Car.” Not to mention that Maine’s partner Greta Kline aka Frankie Cosmos has some appearances as well. Porches have also been a revelatory live band in the past, so it is likely that these songs will translate well live.
Pool is an odd listening experience. It’s dance music that makes you retreat into your thoughts. These songs are more likely to be played in designer clothing stores than clubs, but the music seems too subdued for big dance floors anyways. These songs are meant to be shared with your crush. Pool is primed for hazy late-night drives and dance parties for two.