"Teen Dream" is LP number three from Baltimore's Beach House and is their strongest by some considerable distance. Running at 48 minutes, it offers 10 spellbinding, intelligently constructed and ever so slightly "abnormal" pop tunes and is a pure listening pleasure from beginning to end.
The album kicks off with "Zebra", a formidable opener with a seductive electric guitar pattern that simmers away and builds to a serene chorus. It is immediately apparent that the songwriting skills of this two-piece outfit have developed enormously since their last record. "Silver Soul" is next - a slow burner with singer Victoria Legrand performing a soulful vocal that sounds like a resigned sigh. The enveloping, echo-drenched organ chords work particularly well here. Third tune, "Norway", has had some radio play and is unsettlingly beautiful - just check out its DISEASED slide guitar line! It will lure you in, I guarantee it.
"Used to Be" is a truly wonderful, infectious ditty that you will find going round in your head as you wait for the morning bus. It contains a very jaunty, almost McCartney-esque vocal, a playful piano backing and a frisky "oompah-oompah" beat. It's one of those tunes that will compel you to drop your spoon into your cornflakes and just LISTEN.
"Lover of Mine" is also very powerful. It has all the alien beauty of a dark 1980s synthpop ballad, but without the pungent aroma of 1980s cheese. No, Beach House know a thing or two about subtlety. Their tunes are also leant a haunting, etheriel air by the production technique ("Teen Dream" was recorded in a cathedral by producer Chris Coady).
"Real Love" is possibly my favourite track here at the moment. At its foundation lies a great minor chord piano riff that could have been spun from the spindly fingers of Thom Yorke. Also, the vocal melody on this one is positively GHOSTLY. This captivating creation is followed by a suitably epic closing track - "Take Care" - which contains descending chords and a poignant vocal refrain : "I'd take care of you/ That's true".
I've had this album for a couple of days now and it has become a permanent fixture on my hi-fi. I know it's only January at the moment, but I'll be very impressed if we get to hear a BETTER album this year. You see, on many occasions recently I have purchased overly-hyped contemporary releases and, on listening, been underwhelmed and frustrated. I have often thought, "Can new music still excite me? Must I continue to delve into the past? Have all the best songs already been written?"
Albums like "Teen Dream" put such fears to rest. The music is simultaneously classic and lemon-fresh, sweetly seductive and highly relevant. In short, a musical treat. A MUST-BUY.
PS - This release contains a bonus DVD which contains a video for each of the ten tunes here. The quality varies, but if you like some visual accompaniment to your music then this special release is probably the one to plump for. However, in my humble opinion, it's all about the tunes. Oh, those glorious tunes.....................................................