Stuck in a perpetual reverse-Narnia where it’s always summer, the aptly named Beach House produce an aptly named woozy album that like liquid sunshine poured into your ear.
The economy’s still fucked and, unless things have changed dramatically since I wrote this, the Northern Hemisphere has plunged into the bitterest winter of recent memory. This might explain the excitement currently being generated by anything that could fall into the Glo-Fi bracket – you can’t afford to even think about a holiday so pour some cheap liquid sunshine into your ear hole instead. Lie back and think of anywhere but England.
While calling Beach House bright hopes for 2010 three albums into their career might belittle what they’ve already achieved and the praise they’ve received for it, if there’s ever a moment when they stand to capitalise on all that, it’s now. And this effort goes a long way to fulfil the promise.
Formed in Baltimore, this isn’t the soundscape The Wire prepares you for. Instead, boy/girl duo Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand appear stuck in a perpetual reverse-Narnia where it’s always meadow-filled summer. With Teen Dream, they deliver woozy shoe-gazing with the power to warm you from the inside out. As with their aptly chosen band name, listeners should take the album’s title to heart. It’s a lucid aural trip that proves difficult to shake off.
In lullaby opener ‘Zebra’, the pair earn their stripes. The song sets the scene and the title neatly lends itself to the album’s artwork. But single ‘Norway’ might by the entry point for most of us. Not exactly pining for the fjords, this radiant slab of noise melts in the ear without getting too gooey.
Their first recording for Sub Pop, there’s echoes of the label’s current darlings Fleet Foxes, but replace the frosty harmonies that visibly mist up the second they leave their mouths for whispers drunk on late August sun.
For the seemingly simple arrangement, there’s a laidback My Bloody Valentine quality to proceedings, from the reverb to the heavy breathing backing vocals. Listen closer and tiny details begin to reveal themselves, slowly entrenching you with each play.
For an album that could almost float on the breeze, Teen Dream is tethered down with some strong hooks, multi-layered production and subtlety that adds weight to what could be fanciful whimsy. There’s more depth to this than two musicians should be able to muster and an intimacy that couldn’t be achieved with any more. It might not go straight for your gut like Washed Out, but it rewards repeat listens with a growing sense on wonderment.