This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
White Noise: 4 Great Albums for Winter: #3 Beach House

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

4 Great Albums for Winter: #3 Beach House

Teen Dream


Walk In The Park

Better Times

Take Care

Teen Dream is perhaps a harder sell than it should be on the list of my all-time favourite albums. It’s not a concept album, it isn’t epic, and while their luxurious sound is very distinctive, it’s not what you’d call utterly unique. In their third release, Beach House simply created a great album with a beautiful sound that is packed with fantastic songs. The justification for raising them above any other great album is that almost two years since its release, I still listen to Beach House all the time, I still love each of these songs very much, and every time I put Teen Dream on it’s an absolute delight to hear. If that doesn't constitute a brilliant album, I don't know what does.

I don’t by any means want my opening paragraph to do Beach House any discredit. The art of crafting ten songs brimming with irresistible melodies and powerful atmosphere is no less admirable than making a complex and challenging concept album, and Teen Dream is, from start to finish, practically note-perfect. Although I stated earlier that they don’t have an ‘utterly unique’ sound, there is a distinctive warmth and space in their gauzy dream-pop, with dusty drum-machines holding the line under the endlessly complimentary treated guitar riffs and keys of the band’s two members. This is all before the magnificent icing on the cake, Victoria Legrand’s voice. Her vocals, honeyed and deep, forge hypnotic melodic lines through the sunny haze of their instrumentation, and the cryptic soundbites of her lyrics are often impossible to get out of your head.

The heavy and warm atmospherics of each track lend the album cohesion, and the songs have other key structural similarities. Not content with a simple verse-chorus-verse structure with a single melodic line, melodies often shift through their tracks, keeping every song remarkably fresh and satisfying with every listen. Take for example stunning lead single Norway, in which a shimmering guitar line coasts over propulsive percussion in the chorus, giving way to sumptuous pitchbent guitars with the verse. Towards the close of the track the listener is rewarded with a glittering plucked melody, before the breathy chorus makes a welcome return. The soundfield is loaded with instrumental detail but the result is a fluid whole, you can take in and enjoy everything without having to dissect it. To say Beach House’s music is satisfying is really how it feels as the listener, with each verse, chorus, melody or beat the duo seem to give the listener exactly what they want while always remaining surprising, which makes listening through the album an immensely enjoyable experience.

There really is so much to love here. Silver Soul is a woozy gem showcasing all the best elements of the Beach House sound, which is much cleaner and tighter on Teen Dream than on their previous two albums without losing any of its warmth or charm. There is a slight gauzy sheen over their sound which distances the music from the listener, such as in the heavy and melodic Walk In The Park, but it actually works to their advantage, driving home the quietly complex emotions that the pair are trying to get across. Elsewhere Better Times is an utterly hypnotic tune showing off Legrand’s elastic vocal talents to great effect, swooping between hoarse highs and deep lows before the vocal line changes completely halfway through to a faster clip. Hear at the end how a driving guitar riff appears for only twenty seconds or so, courted perfectly by her voice. This is exactly what Beach House do best; they lull the listener into their sound with enthralling and fluid instrumentation, and with every considered note and complimentary melodic line they succeed magnificently, drawing you into their dusty, honeyed world.

Teen Dream is a deeply atmospheric album at its heart, and perhaps its greatest success is that it layers itself fluidly on existing moods and situations rather than dictating that the mood be a certain way, leaving you to draw your own associations with these magical sounds; whether they be with a person, a warm night at home or a walk out in the snow. Aside from the atmosphere, the other clear triumph here is just how great every single song here is; I’ve practically finished my review and haven’t even mentioned my two favourites. One is the shimmering rush of 10 Mile Stereo, with some of Legrand’s best lyrics coupled with a song that bursts exuberantly to life a couple of minutes in so smoothly you may not even notice that every aspect of the music has changed since the opening.

It’s a great collection, but for me the best song on Teen Dream will always be the last, Take Care. In a lot of ways it is one of the simplest songs on the album, with a recognisable inevitability to the plodding bass and the fuzzy melodies, allowing Legrand’s voice to do all the work here. Her long closing refrain ‘I’ll take care of you / that is true’ is one of the most sincerely felt and moving lines on any of these tracks, and the melancholy longing proves a perfect album closer.

Throughout the album Beach House evoke deep feelings of melancholy and nostalgia with their broad, hazy musical strokes, and the combination of a winning sound and careful composition produces stunning results on track after track. Teen Dream is a confident and deeply rewarding album that will fit in perfectly with any part of your life you choose to share with it, and it will stay with you long past the winter months.

4 Great albums for winter:

#2 - The Antlers
#3 - Beach House
#4 - Joanna Newsom

Labels: , ,


At 10 December 2011 at 05:17 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my favorite albums of all time. Hearing Victoria slide into that "falsetto" in Silver Soul in concert was glorious.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home