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BEACH HOUSE - Teen Dream

My first real exposure to this Baltimore-based duo was an opening set during Grizzly Bear's tour for the latter's Friend EP. Gentle and tranquil with a hint of spookiness, their drum machine, organ and guitar slo-mo tunes were the perfect fit for the night. A little too perfect maybe. Even with tons of accolades from peers and critics, there was something about Beach House that appeared to relegate them to opening-for-cool-bands-who-were-bigger-than-them status. So much for that theory.

Teen Dream completely eradicates the band's past timidness, while managing to retain the group's "character actor" appeal. It's a feat that many before have tried, but few can claim to have pulled it off as suavely as this. The arrangements are bigger, but still stay simple and clean. Victoria Legrand's vocals remain woozy and hazy, but when required are now able to strike out with heartbreaking force—moments here pack the kind of punch normally reserved for Stevie Nicks at her most emotive. "It is happening again," she intones in the chorus of "Silver Soul" in the manner of so many of the best sad songs; the kind where the "it" can be whatever you want it to be.

This is really the heart of the record's beauty—whether on the widescreen cruiser "10 Mile Stereo", the skyward searching "Norway", or the pledging waltz "Take Care", Beach House pin specific emotions onto ambiguous subjects with skillful ease. It's a heartbreak record. It's a falling-in-love record. It's a record to make curry to. It's there for you.

Now, I know what you're thinking, and you're right. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the bandwagon is on its way. Heck, it's already started and I'm on it. But Teen Dream truly is the kind of album that can turn casual well-wishers into genuine superfans in the blink of an eye—all without losing the superfans the group already had in the first place. And when that happens, all you can say is well-played, Beach House. Both figuratively and literally, well-played.

Reader Comments (1)

yes - it's a very good album/unfortunately i had to pick it up at HMV since i don't reside in the city.

February 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertc

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