Leaving behind the alt-rockier tendencies of leader Aaron Maine's earlier work, perhaps for good, Porches' third album, The House, returns to the haunting, singer/songwriter synth pop of 2016's Pool, the project's Domino label debut. Though still intimate in nature, The House welcomes a number of guests, including Blood Orange's Devonté Hynes, Alex Giannascoli aka (Sandy) Alex G, and Pool bandmates Maya Laner and Cameron Wisch. It was written, produced, and recorded by Maine. A symbolic interpretation of the title emerges over the course of the album's 14 tracks, which explore twenty-something domesticity through song sketches on topics like romantic love, feelings of isolation, self-doubt, ennui, and escapism. Giannascoli provides a double-tracked vocal countermelody on album opener "Leave the House." Alongside Maine's sullen lead, the song's simple electronic beats and muffled keyboard line establish a spare and raw bedroom dance music that tries to explain "I would tell you if I knew/What I needed you to do/But I can't see through the blue." As on Pool, melancholia permeates the record, with Maine confessing troubles, capturing a mood, painting a scene, or drawing attention to a detail that evokes all three, such as lying in bed "where I used to put my head next to your head." Midway through the track list, the pulsing "Åkeren" is a Norwegian-language entry with vocals by musician/model Kaya Wilkins as Okay Kaya. At that point, it becomes evident that the album's mood and consistently murky palette are powerful enough to carry a song that's missing not only Maine's distinctively resonant, weary delivery but, to the majority of its audience, intelligible lyrics. (The song concerns the memory of an encounter.) While most of the tracks are dance-minded, "Swimmer" is a layered, drumless pitch-correction interlude that finds solace alone at the lake, and closer "Anything U Want" is a yearning, beats-free declaration of love. An exercise in self-examination, existentialism, and brevity – the average track length is around two-and-a-half minutes -- The House reinforces Porches' standing as a distinctive voice in a crowded field of wistful D.I.Y. indie electronica.
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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson