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Gregory Robson 01/26/10 12:54 PM

Beach House - Teen Dream
 
Beach House - Teen Dream
Record Label: Sub Pop
Release Date: Jan. 26, 2010


Resplendent. That's the easiest way to describe the third album Teen Dream by Baltimore's Beach House. The tandem of French-born Victoria LeGrand and Maryland native Alex Scally have been a hit since their self-titled debut four years ago. With spartan arrangements, a summery name and an alluring frontwoman Beach House made a splash from the start. 2008's critically lauded Devotion set the band on a new path, landing them an opening spot for buzz band Grizzly Bear and winning the hearts of hipsters the world over. Teen Dream, however, takes things to a whole new level.

Opener "Zebra," sets the tempo from the get-go. Lush, vibrant, inoffensive and pristinely performed, the track is an immediate step forward from Devotion. Whereas their previous releases drew heavily on a sparse and spindly approach to woozy cooing, Teen Dream seems to draw more on sensory details. Scally has admitted that he wanted the effort to be a "makeout and hard-grinding record," and the disc's limitless swoops and swirls induce that very sentiment.

With a veneer that's decidedly European, the tandem marches forward on the slow-burning "Silver Soul," allowing both LeGrand and Scally to prove their mettle. Whether its inherent skill, copious amounts of practice or just dumb luck, there's something about the execution of their craft, that is so deeply felt it stretches beyond just comfort and well-worn intimacy. On the delicate charmer "Norway," the duo carries things forward with a hazy, nocturnal veneer that's equal parts jaunty, propitious and majestic. Though the band is just three songs in, they've already made a most important artistic statement and seem to be the torchbearers for 21st century dream pop.

While Scally's sleepy guitarwork certainly helps paint a vibrant picture, the shining star is clearly LeGrand. She has a striking vocal ability, which allows her to wrap her alto around a comfortable palette of luminescent guitars, airy pianos and rich reverb. Never once does she overstate, underperform or disappoint. She just has it. And man is it something. A prime example of her "it factor," is lead single "Used To Be," which features solacing piano and an assuaging organ melody that does so much with so little. A soft cymbal here, a twinkling chime there, never once does the tandem go for the throat or do something alienating. For most bands such an exercise in intimacy and limitation would be a colossal failure, but this duo seems to know exactly how to pull it off.

Though the disc's latter half lumbers along with sliding guitars, hissing organs and teetering melodies, Chris Coady's accomplished production never allows any of the back-half to be torn asunder. An elucidation of this is the lingering torch-song "So Long," which gives way to a swirling vacuum of crashing organs, airy gaps and a celestial swirl that's both chilly and churning. The crescendo towards the end is arguably one of the album's crowning moments. By the time hypnotic closer "Take Care," rolls around, the urge to start the disc back up again is far too hard to resist.

Track Listing 1. Zebra
2. Silver Soul
3. Norway
4. Matter of Time
5. Used To Be
6. Lover of Mine
7. Been Around Before
8. So Long
9. We Belong
10. Take Care


Recommended If You Like Nico, Cocteau Twins, Magnetic Fields, Cat Power


Find Them Here Myspace

Drew Beringer 01/26/10 01:04 PM

awesome review, I adore this album.

tyramail 01/26/10 01:07 PM

good review. i enjoyed this album a lot more than i expected i would.

ihaveblink 01/26/10 01:08 PM

Just picked it up. Watching the DVD tonight.

doppelganger 01/26/10 01:12 PM

gonna give this a listen

dru 01/26/10 01:25 PM

beach houseeeeee

lightcollapse 01/26/10 02:25 PM

One of the best reviews I've ever read on this site for the best album of the year so far.

Adam Pfleider 01/26/10 02:43 PM

I actually listened to this last night on Lala...it's a lot fuller than Devotion...but it drags just a bit for me. I can see this as an album where I like the tracks more than the whole...

Gregory Robson 01/26/10 03:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lightcollapse (Post 61045152)
One of the best reviews I've ever read on this site for the best album of the year so far.

I owe you a drink. Thank you. And I agree. Best album so far. I thought it was hard to top Contra. This disc does it.

Gregory Robson 01/26/10 03:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drew Beringer (Post 61040592)
awesome review, I adore this album.

Thanks man. I do too!

owiseone35 01/26/10 03:48 PM

Fantastic record can't get enough of it, already 12 listens as a whole today. This and Grizzly Bear are what pop should be. Love it. Great review as well sir.

sleeplessdance 01/26/10 04:01 PM

if this was released last year, it would have been at the top of my list for sure. i haven't been able to stop listening to this album for the past two months

Illuminate 01/26/10 04:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gregory Robson (Post 61049061)
I owe you a drink. Thank you. And I agree. Best album so far. I thought it was hard to top Contra. This disc does it.

This. It definitely tops Contra, had an intense argument with a friend about this actually today, glad to hear you agree too. Very cohesive and educational read, well done sir.

Holly HoX! 01/26/10 05:34 PM

Been spinning this for a good month. It's incredible.

Holly HoX! 01/26/10 05:35 PM

...And I don't know how you could compare this to Contra in any respect.