Beach House – Teen Dream

I used to think Beach House were just another one of those dreamy, meloncholic bands. Soft vocals over key boards and simple guitar. Good but nothing special. That was until I heard their third album, Teen Dream, which elevates them well  above the shoe-gazing crowd and dare I say almost into the world of mainstream pop.

On Teen Dream the production and song writing is far bolder than their eponymous debut and follow up Devotion. The soft electronica has turned into full-blown 80s style pop in places, particularly on the album’s first single ‘Norway’. The slicker production and attention to detail  on Teen Dream  unsurprisingly coincides with a move to the label Sub Pop, which has a strong track record of getting the best out of its eclectic mix of artists ranging from The Fleet Foxes to Postal Service.

Beach House, which consists of singer and organist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally, also display far more of the Sixties sound  that so clearly influences them.

This heightened Sixties feel on Teen Dream includes extra reverb and twang on the guitar. Also Legrand’s vocals are stronger than on the previous albums, sounding like a bizarre and wonderful cross between Marianne Faithful and Leslie Feist.

Does this new approach work? Yes indeed, so much so that this could be the band’s breakthrough album that has an outside chance of propelling them from relative indie obscurity to mainstream success.

As for the tracks the album has no duds, always a plus. Opening track Zebra showcases the sound to come. More subtle indie guitar than the sweeping pop of  Norway but no less catchy, no less appealing.

Among other highlights are ‘Walk in the Park’ and the tender ‘Used to Be’. ’10 Mile Stereo’ is another stand out.

Teen Dream has certainly got more commercial appeal than their previous albums and is the product of a band that has clearly listened and learned from contemporaries such as Animal Collective, who like Beach House are also from Baltimore, and achieved considerable success with their album Merriweather Post Pavilion last year. Teen Dream will also please those that enjoyed the previous two albums.

8/10

by Joe Lepper, Jan 2010

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