Beach House: Teen Dream [Album Review]

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Fact: I never really dug Beach House. I often found their blend of minimal drone meets spacey bedroom pop a bit drab. Melodies didn’t seem to be all there, and the vocal parts, too, were dull. My interest waned in the first few songs of both their debut and follow-up, so I’d pull them from the record player. Thus they found an inevitable fixed spot on my dusty shelf. Truth: I don’t think I really gave them the chance they deserved. Teen Dream is proof of that.

This latest album, the Sub Pop debut, will not succumb to the same fate. No, this album opens strong with “Zebra”. By the time Victoria Legrand finished the first verse I was sold on the album and knew all previous beliefs about Beach House were misconceived. “Silver Soul” – just as powerful, and then the third track, of course, is their first single “Norway”. These songs are filled with passion and hint lightly at a psychedelic influence. During the chorus of “Walk In The Park”, deep vocals echo off the walls of keys. “Better Times” boldly declares this year a comeback without actually saying it. “10 Mile Stereo” reaches what I can only imagine as an epic height for the band that is typically at a level 3 on the volume scale. In Teen Dream, Beach House reaches new heights.

For me, I feel like I’m back in high school, just noticing there’s an attractive depth and pleasantly mysterious qualities to that nerdy girl to whom I didn’t give a second glace before. She’s shed her commonplace, outdated glasses for something a bit more style-oriented, donned a somewhat cute outfit, and, perhaps most importantly, noticed me. Translation: now this is something I can get into, and easily at that – these sounds are ones that attract me, and for once I’m paying attention. There’s nothing dull here, no painful lapses in passing judgment; just purity and goodness at its most sincere.

Teen Dream does something else – it communicates beyond the music. You want to move your body, put a sway in your hips. Dull? Not here. Bold? Yes. It has the potency of Mazzy Star at their greatest, yet takes that sound to a whole new level of lucidity. It gives Richard Linklater’s Waking Life a whole new meaning. And it’s with cheeks tinged red that I admit: I may need to revisit those first two and see what I’m really missing.

Teen Dream hits stores everywhere on January 26, 2010. Pre-orders are available now from Sub Pop; they come with extra exclusive goodies from the band too!

Beach House: Norway [mp3]

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Sub Pop Records [CD, 2010]

1. Zebra
2. Silver Soul
3. Norway
4. Walk in the Park
5. Used to Be
6. Lover of Mine
7. Better Times
8. 10 Mile Stereo
9. Real Love
10. Take Care

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