Context – Playing Hearthstone
Let’s talk for a minute about intentionality; namely, does it matter when it comes to an artist’s work?
There’s something to be said about interpreting or reacting to a piece as it’s own organic thing. There isn’t any pre-loaded expectation, desire or dread, whatever you think or feel is entirely based on your visceral reaction to the music. If you dance or cry or try to sing along it’s a victory, and if you skip the song it’s all uphill from there.
On the other hand, there are a myriad of benefits to doing a little research first. If you know about an artist’s background or style you can appreciate additional subtleties and layers to the songs. The extra attention to detail rewards you with new in-jokes the artist put in just for you.
And the cherry on top is the artist’s intentions ultimately don’t matter–the audience is going to react how they’re going to react, and once the art is released to the world there’s nothing they can do to influence how it’s received (conspiracy theories and industry favoritism aside). There are numerous examples of artists intending a piece to be received one way, only for the audience to get a completely different reading from it.
All of which is to say I feel like Porches would have gone over better with a little prior knowledge. I was immediately drawn into the neo-90’s pop aesthetic, grooving to the sterile kick drum driving these Casio Keyboard beats forward. I was grooving, I was into it.
Then dude opens his mouth and completely takes me out of it. Porches’ voice isn’t unpleasant, but it’s certainly not good by most traditional standards. He has the lazy sort of drawl that I associate with Joy Division or [pick a punk band], and it sounds a bit out of context against this retro-pop. The effect is disorienting, but I wouldn’t say in an overall bad way. It just takes some getting used to as you try to reconcile these disparate techniques.
The “Related Artists” tab on Spotify include a smattering of indie-punk and emo bands like Diet Cig and Car Seat Headrest. I feel like knowing this, any of Porches’ previous releases, or a review going into The House would have been welcome, if only to help me recover from the jolt.
I wonder if this is to be taken “seriously” or if this is the talented musical ranting of someone who’s just out to show the world what they’re made of. I wonder if that matters. I wonder who their audience is and what they think of this album. I have questions only additional listens can answer.
I’m definitely going to look more into the rest of Porches’ discography. There’s something appealing about this: the beats are good and the singing doesn’t put me off much beyond the first verse or so. If you’re up for getting weird I recommend you do the same.