Beach House is a very simple band. The duo isn’t just simple in terms of numbers, but their not a tough act to wrap your mind around. The band’s newest release and most accessible album Teen Dream really catches us off-guard. After receiving much critical acclaim for their previous releases (their self titled debut and 2008’s Devotion) the group switches things up on Dream, reaching out to a whole new listener base while still remaining true to their trademark sound.
Beach House toured with fellow East Coast mates Grizzly Bear last year, and after hearing this album you could put it up against Veckatimest (Grizzly Bear’s 2009 breakthrough) and compare the two as if they were made in correspondence with one another. But that’s not quite the case. The band was surely influenced by the Brooklyn indie band, but the album was made before their tour, so what gives? The keyboard in “Walk In The Park” could find it’s similarities with GB’s “Two Weeks”, or “Silver Soul” to the likes of “All We Ask”, as well as the guitar tone throughout the entire album, but there’s something special about what LeGrande & co. have done here. Their ability to create blissful pop songs like the keyboard and synth driven “Norway” and “10 Mile Stereo” and mix it in with the deeper-toned “Take Care” or the beautiful “Better Times” is qutie remarkable.
Bands often find themselves trying to recreate themselves over and over again as their careers go on or just remain stagnant and repetitive. Beach House has found a happy medium with the release of Dream, by delivering something new but at the same time revisiting their old tricks from albums past. From the opening chords of “Zebra” to the closing of “Take Care”, lead singer Victoria LeGrande’s confidence and lyricism really stands out. But as it goes for most female lead singers, they are the centerpiece of the music: higher vocals and rely on that to really propel the band to where they need to be. In the unique case of Beach House, it sometimes takes a back seat to other characteristics of the rest of the instruments. The echoing guitars and hazy percussions whisp the listener away, while LeGrande’s vocals contribute in a deeper tone, which fits their style of music perfectly. “Don’t I know you better than the rest/All deception, all deception from you” sings LeGrande in “Zebra”, and through deception and disguise, the band still unveils itself in the graceful form they’ve always appeared to be.
Key Tracks: “Walk in the Park”, “10 Mile Stereo”, “Zebra”
WPGU Music Staff Rating: W-P-G-½
W = Poor
W-P = OK
W-P-G = Good
W-P-G-U = Great!