On first listen, Pool seeks our affection in a similar way that Washed Out's (2011) Within and Without or DIANA's (2013) Perpetual Surrender were successful in upon their releases--in that it offers a record with both style and accessibility--and in some ways deserves it . Immediately apparent is the quality of the lead synthesizer tones which have impressively conscientious processing for a singer/songwriter doubling as a producer; gorgeous vintage waveforms embellish the nimble grooves throughout, establishing a hallmark axiom of the album. Another axiom is the aforementioned bass grooves which anchor these 12 tracks by colourfully bouncing about, and unlike some other marks of Aaron Maine's handiwork, they rarely accept a yawned contentment; it's certainly the most consistently gratifying component Porches employs here. Lastly, the project's most crucial ingredient is undoubtedly Maine himself, who provides generally favourable results: at times he's subdued and placid, at others possessed by a delicate and tender conviction, and on a few occasions is obscured by auto-tune--which cringingly backfires on "Pool". Lyrically, his sparse poetry ranges from callow, such as in "Glow" ("I know I need you, You know we are through, ..., I guess all that I can do, Is try to stop thinking about you") to intimate and soft-hearted in "Underwater" ("The air was heavy and cool, Everything so delicate, As I watched you walk into the room") to profoundly ambiguous in "Be Apart" ("Cause I wanna be apart/a part, Of it all"), wherein we can't be entirely certain whether Maine is repulsed or enthralled by the gallivanting clump of human flesh that is his youthful peers embarking on a night out--and it seems that neither is he.
After further inspection, it's evident that what Porches have going for them on this album is premises; every song here (aside from "Pool" and "Shape", which miss the mark completely) contains movements that begin so promisingly: with excellent timbres, melodies, percussion, mixing, and vocals harmonies featuring the lovely Greta Kline (a.k.a. Frankie Cosmos). However, instead of playing around with these compositional ideas by lengthening melodies, introducing variation and injecting more frequent adornments, there are plenty of instances where Maine just repeats an initial idea for the duration of the movement--squashing the greater potential that many of these premises possess. Though this could possibly be an intentional move--and by keeping things simple, perhaps Maines hopes to stimulate the listener just enough so as to induce a breezy head-bob without demanding greater attention--the net effect is lackluster all the same. Still, it's a decent release; despite some shortcomings, its lively bass lines, rich sonic palette, and the earnestness in Maine's falsetto are together able to maintain buoyancy.