Porches' latest album, Pool, feels like a concise distillation of indie pop circa 2016: snappy drumbeats, supremely chill synthesizers and heavenly voices floating above the aqueous mix. What's so impressive is that Aaron Maine, Porches' principal singer and songwriter, pulled off such an intoxicating blend of bedroom intimacy and danceable jams on his first attempt recording at home with a laptop and the editing software Logic.
Porches' previous albums weren't exactly straight-up rock & roll, rendering moot a lot of the arguments surrounding Pool. (Many of them go something like, "indie kid sells guitars and buys turntables.") Even 2013's Slow Dance in the Cosmos, which edged into electronic territory, lacked the clarity and unabashed head-nodding joy of Pool hits like "Underwater," "Security" and "Mood."
"When I started recording in my apartment, I couldn't record live drums or really turn the guitar up," Maine says during a phone interview from his Manhattan home. "So I took a few keyboard riffs and decided to wrap my head around them. What was most accessible and feasible to do on my own was to get those ideas out with more electronic-based music. I found it exciting to explore that world – and I liked the idea of making something that felt fresher to me."
That freshness certainly caught fire; tastemaking outlets like Pitchfork heaped praise on Pool, while Spin marveled at the album, speculating that "it's hard to take at face value the sincerity of someone who suddenly does such a great job at mimicking an E-Z listening style that until recently was laughed at or liked ironically." Yet the intensely personal nature of Pool's songs shines through, even when Maine's soaring voice is bathed in Auto-Tune.
"All the attention is definitely a validation," Maine says. "It feels like I have something solid to show for that time in my life. But I don't feel any added pressure [because of Pool's success]; I already put a lot of pressure on myself to try and outdo what I did before, and that's worked for me. Obviously I want people to like the new record, but if they're like, 'This is a horrible direction for Porches' – and there are probably plenty of people like that – I'm still going to keep doing me."
Maine says his self-recording, mixing and producing process on Pool stretched out far longer than he originally wanted, but he believes that his first stab at total control resulted in a product with which he's 100 percent happy. "I could have worked on it forever, but there's a certain point when you have to close the chapter, because you start changing things that no one will ever notice," he says. "It's nice to have something to show for that time in my life, but it also makes me more excited to start thinking about the next thing."
For now, the focus turns to Porches' mammoth upcoming tour, which kicked off with a March 3 hometown co-headline show featuring Greta Kline, Maine's girlfriend, and her equally buzz-worthy band Frankie Cosmos. "I started looking forward to it more as it got closer," Maine laughs. "In theory, I always dread the idea of tour, but then it happens and it's really great. I love hanging out with the band and performing." Still, Maine says, this one is different. "It signifies the beginning of a proper album-touring cycle, which I've never done before. I'm scared about what that means. So I'm just trying to be sure I can keep making quality music while living a life that people can still relate to."
Florida fans will get their first chance to relate to Porches this week, since the band's March 13 show in Orlando marks its first trip to the Sunshine State. In his laidback, low-key way, Maine predicts nothing but good vibes: "People have been grooving and dancing at our shows more lately – it's less mosh pit-y and bro-y, which feels really good," he says. "And now that people have had time to listen to Pool on their own time, I hope they go out ready to hear the new record. I know I'm downright excited to play it."