It’s been years since I found an artist that hooked me so well that after listening to one album, I needed everything they had. Lately besides psychedelic bands, my big obsession was reverb-heavy bands and synth-driven bands. Baltimore band, Beach House, is the merging of those two worlds in perfect harmony. Today I start with their third album, Teen Dream, the album that opened my eyes to them.
Victoria Legrand manages to top the musical texture of perfectly with her haunting but not overbearing voice, her synth work makes every song an immense soundscape and Alex Scally’s guitar work drives or compliments every song exactly in the way it should. The album also often transitions perfectly between songs, a craft sparingly seen in modern music.
The album opens on the guitar driven “Zebra,” using it’s organ sounds sparingly but using some amazing chords to give the song majesty, and when the keys come to the front with Legrand’s chorus, the power is palpable. “Silver Soul” is one of the most relaxing slow jams I’ve heard, between Legrand’s sad vocals and the immensely spacey guitar it’s a perfect slowdance song. Pushing the synth to the front, “Norway” merges a vocal hook and guitar line perfectly in its chorus and the lethargic feel of the guitar in the verse fits the vocals perfectly, the last minute or so of this song have a magical quality when the guitar changes tone and Legrand’s vocals get their attack.
The drum machine driven “Walk In The Park” is surprisingly one of the album’s best. With some of the loudest synth on the album popping through the whole song it instantly stands out but it burst to life in an electric chorus that merges both Legrand’s powerful vocals and a guitar line that seems almost alive. “Used To Be” is one of the album’s more upbeat feeling songs, at least melodically. The offbeat rhythm of the song is enveloping and the piano melody is over the brim with yearning, when the song picks up its momentum seems unstoppable. “Lover Of Mine” has one of the more haunting synth lines on the record, with just the right amount of eerie, Legrand’s vocals take the reigns, seemingly dictating where the synth goes and her high notes are just as dulcet as her low voice.
“Better Times” is admittedly a little empty of much of the album’s oomph, passing more on its ambiance, but around the two minute mark it completely changes and redeems itself, starting with an amazing fill and then turning into a mantra-like bridge. “10 Mile Stereo” has the album’s best guitar line that with Legrand’s vocals is a powerful pairing, once the keys drop in they gain an almost mystic quality and its chorus is as dreamy as it gets. “Real Love” strips the synth down to piano for an immensely sad feeling song, as Legrand’s voice echoes, so too does the pain in it. Despite the air of sadness on all of Beach House’s songs, there is distinct happiness to the love spoken on “Take Care.” So many layers of arpeggios you can get lost in any of them and it’s chorus is brimming with euphoria and a genuine declaration of love.
I leave you today with a playlist of the whole album, which has music videos for almost every song.