With “All Day Gentle Hold !,” Porches Made an Album for an Overstimulated World
Aaron Maine tells us why his new LP couldn’t wait for a 2022 release.
Even though Aaron Maine has been releasing music as Porches for over a decade, nothing could prepare him for what happened the day he released his last album Ricky Music: all of New York City shut down due to a global pandemic. “The fucking billboard was up with not a soul on the street,” he recalls over Zoom from his sunlit apartment. “You couldn’t have planned this any better.” After the building momentum of preparing for his third album on Domino—on top of tour life coming to an abrupt end—Maine explains how his perspective completely changed. “It’s hard to feel bad for yourself for more than a second about a wrench being thrown into your plans,” he says calmly. “It feels like the most important, monumental thing in the world, and to see it essentially vanish into thin air was really humbling.”
Confined to his apartment, like most of us, Maine was asking himself lots of questions about his habits—specifically about making music. “How do I do it in the most joyful way? If I’m going to continue to make an obscene amount of music, I should probably ask myself what’s in it for me emotionally. I feel like I was making it from a cleaner, quieter place emotionally, and I think that’s what this new album is injected with.”
Since signing to Domino, Porches has released albums at a regular clip. However, his latest album All Day Gentle Hold !, which Maine started working on at the end of 2019 and which fully came together last year, shakes up this schedule. It’s a “world album,” as he calls it, referring to the cohesive atmosphere of punchy, punky songs that shove us around for less than thirty minutes. He was adamant that the album’s sentiments had to be released post-lockdown. “I could not shake this gut feeling that it had to come out this year, no matter what my label or management says. I was like, ‘Guys, imagine waking on March 2022 and these dumb songs come out.’ It’s so important, the context, that the music comes out [now],” he says. “With everything coming to a halt like that I was like, ‘Oh, this could end at any point,’ which led me to remember that I can also stop at any point. The momentum stopped so you had to generate it yourself. It’s all in your hands.”
“I could not shake this gut feeling that it had to come out this year, no matter what my label or management says. I was like, ‘Guys, imagine waking on March 2022 and these dumb songs come out.’”
All Day Gentle Hold ! finds Maine indebted to the best end result of each song rather than maintaining the initial tone or idea that sparked it. He describes vaguely that similar to 2016’s Pool, this album constructs a world. His thought process becomes a little clearer when he reveals that he didn’t want anything on the new album to take you out of its kineticism. “For House and Ricky Music, they were these collages of experiments that I was doing with production and songwriting,” he says in hindsight. “I kind of went with those whims and presented them as they were conceived, more or less. You put it on and you’re hopefully transported—or at the very least not knocked out of the world—by some unexpected idea I had some day.” He approached this album as a whole, thinking of how these songs would work best together as opposed to stubbornly committing to “This is how it sounded that day, this is exactly how I was feeling, these are the sounds I wanted to hear,” honoring that moment which piqued his curiosity.
Maine’s shift in expectations not only changed for himself, but also for his fans. “With everyone being so fried and scared and overstimulated, I was like ‘What does putting music out mean?’ Am I gonna ask someone to sit through two and a half minutes of something I thought was weird in my room or am I gonna use it as an opportunity to put out something more optimistic or livelier,” he says, choosing his words carefully. “I wanted it to feel like an offering rather than me asking something of the listener. Asking anything of anyone felt insane.”
He says he wanted to make music that felt “awake,” and he succeeded. All Day Gentle Hold ! has some of the liveliest recordings that he’s ever released. “My vibe has been pretty fucking crazy,” he states on the opener “Lately.” He repeats that final word over pounding drums and synths that sound like they’re getting the shit slapped out of them. The album is riddled with repetition, a signature of Maine’s music in recent years. But instead of repeated phrases acting as mantras like they did on Ricky Music, redundancy is used more as an effect for the song’s urgency or emotive tone.
“I felt it was very of this time, and this chaotic energy, and these spirals in everyone’s eyes like, ‘What the fuck is going on? Is the world ending? Do we party or celebrate or hide?’”
The 11 tracks on All Day Gentle Hold ! are concise euphoric bursts. Imbued with a sense of playfulness and corporeality, it’s not necessarily Maine revisiting earlier memories, but he seems revitalized by universal tragedy. There’s plenty of violence and paranoia alongside innocent checkpoints. “Blood everywhere / I love the way that it smells,” he sings on “Okay.” Later, Maine returns to school after a summer vacation on “Back3school,” and “Swarovski” takes us back even further with a Slushy, thoughts of who will have the best summer tan, and the crystal shop at the mall every mom is bound to stop in. Maine reverts back to an age when things seemed more straight-forward, channeling the pent up energy of watching the world burn from his bedroom.
“It is definitely violent at times and I felt fucked up for a lot of it… I felt like a vessel, weirdly, for all the shit that was flying at everyone’s face. I was trying to capture my version of that. That’s why I fought so hard to put it out this year—I felt it was very of this time, and this chaotic energy, and these spirals in everyone’s eyes like, ‘What the fuck is going on? Is the world ending? Do we party or celebrate or hide?’”
By looking back, Maine achieves the balance of placing bath-bomb optimism with a growing sense of unease. He searches in mundane, youthful backgrounds. He even finds comfort in the tagline of a hair tie brand—that’s where the title All Day Gentle Hold ! comes from. “I remember seeing it honestly probably four years ago or something. I feel like it’s in line with the lyrics where it almost makes sense literally, but it’s kind of clunky,” he explains. “Who wouldn’t want to be held gently, or touched, when we’re quarantined?” FL