Beach House - Teen Dream

There is a buoyant, effervescent quality to ‘Teen Dream’, the gorgeous new record from Baltimore duo Beach House.

There is a buoyant, effervescent quality to ‘Teen Dream’, the gorgeous new record from Baltimore duo Beach House; so much so that the music at times can seem as evasive as a helium filled balloon, where if you don’t hold on to it, it’s bound to just float away, but hold on to it too tightly and you’re bound to break it’s delicate construction. There are really no demands made of the listener by the music, it will soar whether you’re paying attention or not. But allow yourself to become attached to the melodies and moods of these sprightly songs, and you’re bound to be stirred by the spirit instilled in the music. Beach House are a band clearly at the top of their game on ‘Teen Dream’, with the ingenuity and, ahem, devotion shown towards these songs by Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally immediately discernible, as both craft and care envelop each and every note on the album. This results in their most fully realized and mature sounding album yet in a career that has only seen their enchanting dream-pop sound evolve and strengthen.

‘Zebra’ coaxes the album gingerly out of the gates, with an insistent guitar laying a foundation for the eventual emergence of Legrand’s breathy vocals. It takes a while for the band to find their footing, musically, with the duo not in any rush to lock into their sound, but by the time the kick drum hits and the synths start to soar the song is effortlessly golden. It’s just so easy to get swept away by the beguiling sounds of this record. ‘Silver Soul’ is elevated by Legrand’s smooth vocal range, with her voice naturally rising up a couple octaves as the song grows in emotion and impact. Lead single ‘Norway’ starts a bit forebodingly, but eventually eases into a gentle, jaunty soundscape that the ‘Land Of The Midnight Sun’ would be smart to use to attract daylight-deprived tourists to their northern realm.

There is a bit of a roller-skating jam quality to ‘Walk In The Park,’ with a forlorn, searching mood layered within the melody that finally finds release in the gloriously grand chorus, where Legrand gives voice to a character that has finally learned how to stand firmly on her own. The song is a rousing triumph, and represents the best of what the band has to offer-graceful restraint combined with elegant taste and tone. These songs bristle with the confidence of a group that knows they got it right, from the bouncy, rag-time keyboard of ‘Used To Be,’ which features one of the loveliest fade-outs in recent memory, to the updated 80’s gloss of ‘Lover Of Mine,’ this is self-assured, focused music by two people in perfect creative synch with each other.

‘10 Mile Stereo’ finds Legrand in full Stevie Nicks mode, with her fading falsetto inching the passionate track ever higher, matching the driving drum beats and spiraling keyboards as the song takes off in all its effervescent glory. The album closes strongly with ‘Real Love’ and ‘Take Care,’ two intertwined songs unified by Legrand seeking to explain why she fell in love with someone, but also why she had to say goodbye. It’s a fitting end to an album that seems to end at just the right time but still leaves the listener wanting more.

With ‘Teen Dream’, Scally and Legrand have created absorbing, atmospheric music that never strains for significance or seriousness, but is affecting all the same. The band, who recently signed to indie stalwart Sub Pop, shrug off the influence of expectations by crafting an album that succeeds simply because it seems devoid of any contrivance, relying instead on instinct and heart. And that pulsing, captivating quality permeates all of the songs on this record, providing us with a breathtaking album that is ultimately as rewarding as it is surprising. Just hang on, enjoy the ride, and let Beach House carry you away.

Tags: Reviews, Album Reviews

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