Monday, February 1, 2010
Hailing from Baltimore, I've found it difficult to get into the city's musical offerings. Occasionally my musical tastes mesh up with quasi-Baltimore act Animal Collective, but most times I shrug off their nauseating repetitiveness which is basically Caucasian vegan Baltimore club music, circa 1994, when DJ Boobie was still making mix-tapes.
That is until Beach House arrived on the scene. Their self-titled 2006 debut caught my ear when I heard "Master of None" on Sirius radio. However, their first two albums were downtrodden and difficult to sit through in their entirety. Instead, I opted to be a fan of the band in small doses. "Yeah, Beach House, they're from Baltimore. I like a couple of their songs, and I want to like them, but..."
Then came Teen Dream, officially released last Tuesday, despite having been leaked last November. The wait was worth it. Teen Dream is by far the band's best album to date.
Beach House, made up of French-born Victoria Legrand and Bmore native, Alex Scally, push their core minimalist sound to the limit in Teen Dream, resulting in an album of more movement and layers. The band previously consisted of Legrand on vocals, Scally on guitar, and a drum machine rivaling the cheapness of the one that Terrance Howard's character found in Hustle & Flow. Now, there is a drummer (I think, or they bought a better sounding drum machine) and organ-sounding keyboards at the band's disposal. They make great use of the new wrinkles, but this is still very much a Beach House record.
Thematically, Teen Dream evokes the 80's as seen by a depressed teenager who watches too many John Hughes movies. I mean, come on...it's dream-pop at its best. But I've never experienced so much beautiful sadness on an album. In that regard, Beach House isn't for everyone. Despite it's revamped sound, this is still a slow album, one that takes it's time getting to where it wants to go, and even in some cases, still takes too long getting there.
And in a year that looks to be filled with new albums from some of my favorite bands (The Walkmen, Arcade Fire, The National, Stars, Radiohead, etc.), it's ironic that an album that I wasn't expecting comes out of nowhere and hit me so hard.
Teen Dream is going to be tough to wake up from.
You can check out their album at lala.com here.