Beach House: Debut

Beach House 1 (2012)

After Bloom,  I decided to try out Beach House’s self-titled debut, and it was just as haunting as their other work, while maybe a little less catchy.

The album opens on the slow-burning “Saltwater” that’s mostly pitched-noise until almost a minute in. But once the synth kicks in the sound becomes the wall of texture to let all the melody play on and it’s one of the band’s simplest and most intimate. “Tokyo Witch” is the eerie roots of many of the bands later songs and is haunting throughout as well as darkly beautiful from section to section. “Apple Orchard” is warmth in musical form from the opening guitar line and the mix of synth and Legrand’s vocals, it has a warm darkness to it that makes it weirdly soothing.

“Master Of None” is strangely different, focusing on treble melodies almost immediately and bring a sense of worry and unease without getting necessarily eerie. “Auburn And Ivory” almost sounds like an electronic Chopin tune with vocals, the melody often on its own with the vocals, it feels like a cross between classical piano, folk music and electronica, and is magical in this manner. “Childhood” while somewhat forgetable does serve to keep the relaxing feel going. The song does pick up when it starts playing an arpeggio sequence near the end that entrancing and its transition back is almost Disney-like. There seems to be a few dry notes like this on most of their albums but they do just seem to work when listening to the whole album start to finish.

“Lovelier Girl” brings the warmth back but fills out the sound even more and takes the music to more complicated and pleasing places that are sometimes unexpected, some of the best chord work on the whole album is here. An early version of the rhythm heard on Bloom comes in the strangely Spanish sounding “House On The Hill.” It seems so different both stylistically and tonally until the overwhelming organ drop about a minute in and then it becomes one of the most entrancing songs on the album, the surge of keys is rushing and expanding but after the bare intro it’s ear-candy. “Heart And Lungs” seems almost passable and then the bass saves the whole piece. A little more filler but some of the arpeggiated parts are once again the best part and worth the slow build to them.

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