Beach House &- Teen Dream (Sub Pop; 2010)
If there is one thing to remark about the Baltimore duo Beach House it is their natural, even effortless, hand at crafting the dreamiest tunes of dream pop. Since forming in 2004 they’ve released two well-received albums and are on the verge of releasing a third, the aptly titled Teen Dream.
Teen Dream is much like past Beach House efforts relying on its heavy dazed atmosphere of keyboards and organ with traces of delicate guitar chords spliced into the mix. It’s a formula familiar to anyone who has followed Beach House since their conception. While some may criticize the band for a lack of progression, sometimes it’s better to stick with what you know and Beach House knows dream pop inside and out.
The only minimal change present in Teen Dream is that vocalist Victoria Legrand’s raspy and, at times, frigid delivery is much more upfront and not as buried as it had been on previous releases. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to compare Legrand’s vocal styling to that of Nico or Marianne Faithfull. In the context of Beach House’s dream pop, her voice acts as a guiding wire bringing you through the hazy surroundings of Teen Dream. Had her voice been softer it would simply been lost in the wavy surge and swirl of each track.
“Zebra” opens the album with an ethereal, but brief, boy-girl harmony shared between Legrand and guitarist and keyboardist, Alex Scally. It then moves into sweeping, lush arrangements backing simple verses and Legrand’s droning chorus over a crashing symbol. It’s an instant ear hook that’s followed by a similarly styled track, “Silver Soul.” The pairing is easily the strongest of the 10-track album and listening to them back-to-back is simply a joy.
“10 Mile Stereo” comes late into the track listing and shows a slight variation of the band’s well-crafted style. Scally is given the chance to step forward and, for the majority of the track, drives the song with his guitar. It’s much faster paced and even a bit upbeat, but still manages to find its place alongside the other tracks of Teen Dream.
Teen Dream is Beach House at its most comfortable. The album is a seamless effort that shows no bumps and never veers off path. There’s no doubt that whatever comes next for Beach House will be as good or even better.
Trial Track: “Norway”