13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Beach House - The Baltimore duo achieve dreamy pop perfection,
This review is from: Teen Dream (Audio CD)
For many it was only a matter of time until Beach House delivered big time and sought world domination. For this punter alternatively (with the exception of a couple of songs such as "Apple Orchard" on their debut and "Holy Dances" and "Gila" on their second LP "Devotion") a sense of deep indifference has been the predominant feeling about this band. Indeed if truth be told they seemed like a bunch of Mazzy Star sound-alike's with "Fade into you" the overused template. What a mad fool I have been, "Teen Dream" is an outright stunner and propels them into the major leagues.
The anticipation around this album across American music blogs has been huge largely as a consequence of widespread leaks of the album. The result is that it is already being hyped up as this year's Animal Collective equivalent e.g. an album released in the first month of the New Year which will dominate 2010's musical landscape. In the first place a comparison between "Teen Dream" and "Merriweather" makes little sense since they are chalk and cheese in terms of musical styles. But more than this they are unhelpful since they burden "Teen Dream" with a comparison which it does not need and a weight of expectation that this fragile beauty should not be required to carry. After all it is the quality of the music that counts.
Beach House is a duo from Baltimore comprising Victoria Legrand (yes she is related to the French composer Michel) and Alex Scally. "Teen dream" is on the Bella Union label and recorded in a church in upstate New York and you can tell. This is an album of real grace and power. The songs are characterised by an ethereal dreamy pop sensibility and Legrand's voice has echoes of Nico, Marianne Faithful, Patti Smith and of course Hope Sandoval. It gives a slightly hard, sultry and sometimes raspy edge to Beach House's sweet melodies and Scally's wonderful backing instrumentation.
The album starts brilliantly with the sublime "Zebra" which sets the tone for the rest of the album with its slow guitar lines that build and burn into a classic pop anthem. It is gorgeous stuff as is "Silver Soul" which follows it. And then there is "Norway" the single which has been readily available for months. In this reviewers humble opinion it is one of the greatest pop songs of this century thus far. Legrand's vocal is as smokey as a fine Cuban cigar and contrasts with the breathless backing vocals. This mix is combined with a weird and slightly distorted electronic backing but which works in spades. It is bloody perfect and if you don't get the album at least download this. The slow processional pop of "Walk in the Park" which follows "Norway" is remarkably its equal and provides no let up. These first four songs are by far the strongest opening quartet to an album which I have heard in many years.
"Used to be" has shades of the wonderful innocence found on Mercury Rev's "Deserters Songs" album and for some reason "Lover of Mine" reminds me of "Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence" with a slight Japanese feel. "10 mile stereo" is easily the best vocal performance by Legrand on the whole album. The only qualms I have come in the shape of "Real Love" and "Take care" which are the tracks at the moment that I can't get too worked up about. "Take Care" has one of those constant repeat vocals that go on beyond the point of irritation.
Small caveats for what is a towering performance. "Teen Dream" is a lush and magisterial album that you would be fool not to let it into your life. They support Grizzly Bear in the forthcoming spring UK tour and that will be some concert. 2010 is starting well "Teen Dream" shifts it up a gear.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Jan 2010 14:16:23 GMT
R. P. Greenhalgh says:
Excellent review. I saw Beach House live a couple of years back and that was enough to convince me that they had it in them to pull of a major-league album. I hope they'll be on the 2010 festival circuit...
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jan 2010 20:13:39 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Jan 2010 23:55:39 GMT
Red on Black says:
Thanks Richard, I hope they do become huge in the UK since this album is special - great blog well done
Posted on 27 Jan 2010 18:56:39 GMT
Mr. B. A. D. Plowman says:
A spot-on review, R.o.B. I'll be surprised if we hear a better album than "Teen Dream" in 2010. Here's hoping!
One thing I disagreed with in your review, though : your qualms with regard to "Real Love". With it's haunting vocal and piano line, I'd say it's one of the album's finest moments. Different strokes, I guess...
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jan 2010 21:47:00 GMT
Mr. H Chinaski says:
Yep, great review, but can't beleive you find 'Take Care' irritating. I think it is absolutely beautiful & draws the album to an appropriate close. On first listen I'd say 'Silver Soul' is without doubt the greatest moment on the record. When Victoria Legrand sings 'It is happening again', I honestly wonder how I stop myself from weeping.
In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jan 2010 19:52:37 GMT
Red on Black says:
Messrs Plowman and Chinaski. Thanks for the kind comments and I recant. I have just been listening to Teen Dream on a plane flight and "Real love" is atmospheric and brilliantly sung by Victoria LeGrand. But the surprise package is indeed the wonderful "Take Care". I still think it would be a better song if it were a minute shorter (sorry being picky) but it has a glorious melody and like Norway that sublime contrast between Legrand's smokey voice and the airy backing vocals. I now think that it is one of the best on the album. Indeed I have reviewed a number of truly excellent albums thus far in 2010 including Midlake, Laura Viers and Vampire Weekend but it is to Beach House that i keep returning at the moment.
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