While indie singer/songwriter Aaron Maine has released music under multiple pseudonyms, including a Ronald Paris debut in 2014, Porches stands as the most active and successful alias of the style-shifting Manhattan musician to date. Rarely stagnant in the past, the moniker's sophomore full-length, Pool, marks a distinct palette shift from the electronics-enhanced, twangy guitar- and acoustic drums-centered sound of its 2013 debut to full-on indie electronic. However, calling it a reinvention would be an overstatement, as Maine's characteristically brooding tone and emotively direct vocal and songwriting manner brand the results distinctly his. He continues to mingle styles here as on prior releases as well, now with new wave, contemporary R&B, house, and weighty singer/songwriter all in play; the bulk of the album's tunes effectively mix the latter two. The gloomy, melodically rangy "Be Apart" serves as a fine representative, with intimacy reaching through steady beats and thick keyboard tones as Maine thematically assesses "I want to be apart/I want to be a part of it all." Likewise seemingly incongruous, the haunting, baying "Hour" ("All I want is an apple inside my gray skies") features tinny, pulsing beats and airy backing vocals by Frankie Cosmos, who appears throughout the album alongside Maine's weary falsetto. Smooth R&B and Auto-Tune creep onto tunes like the sulky "Security," while new wave arrives via "Car," and the sparse, eventually trancy title track combines these and more. Occasional surprises, like the Auto-Tune and an unexpectedly warm, expressive saxophone solo in "Shaver," also provide stimulation through the record's spacy journey. Throughout, Pool manages to mix the distinctly human with the relentlessly mechanical in a way that conveys longing and isolation beyond just melancholic lyricism. Written and recorded almost entirely in Maine's Manhattan apartment, the album was mixed by Chris Coady (Beach House, !!!) and should play equally well in bedroom headphones and basement nightclubs, and leave many anticipating album three.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson