by Emma Shepard (@hugejourneyfan)
In February of 2016, Porches released their sophomore album Pool on Domino Records. Since then, the record has received a considerable amount of attention and critical acclaim. Pool was an unexpectedly sexy follow-up to 2013's Slow Dance in the Cosmos, incorporating more electronic pop elements than its folky predecessor. Pool is what you get when you take Slow Dance and put it in a blender with glittery confetti and neon joggers. Water is an eight-track followup to Pool, which offers the listener an intimate, stripped down glance into the birth of one of 2016's best albums.
Water opens with a b-side version of "Mood." While I find myself missing the shimmering synth melodies from the Pool version, it's interesting to hear the song in a totally different light. This version is more laid back and lacking a little bit of the punch that the original packs, while offering different percussive elements and cutting vocal reverb that pushes Aaron Maine's vocals front and center.
The Water version of "Car" opens with a Kraftwerk-esque intro with layered 80s-inspired synth sounds. I almost wish these first 40 seconds made the cut on Pool. The structure of the song is vastly different in the demo version; slower and missing the melodic guitar riffs, but heavier on the keyboard side with a relaxed vocal approach.
On "Security," the homemade demo sound lends to the song, almost making it preferable to the Pool version. This version is moodier and darker; the vocals feel a bit more ethereal, which creates a dreamy and hushed bedroom pop sound.
The EP ends on "Black Budweiser T-Shirt," which made its debut on Water. This is a standout track, sonically a little closer to the Slow Dance style than that of Pool. Falling around the one minute mark, there is something of a Guided By Voices moment -- short, sweet, and a little rough around the edges. Maine's vocals move whimsically with purpose, driven by the lead guitar riff with some low key spaghetti western vibes. The track closes the eight-track EP on a minimalistic and sugary note.
Dive into Water expecting a very different listening experience than Pool, but don't expect to be underwhelmed. The production on Pool is masterful, but there is something to be said for the dirtier, lo-fi versions. These tracks feel like rainy day versions of their polished forerunners. Listeners may fail to realize that a lot of the candy-coated lyrics on Pool capture a feeling of loneliness, but the bare approach on Water allows some of the sorrow peak through and become an undeniable presence. Sometimes, demo albums feel masturbatory or like they're being released for the sake of releasing something. In this case, Water is purposeful- a vivid display of artistic growth. This is still a collection of fully-realized songs just before they become part of a synth pop tour de force.