I have to be honest. I’m all over Beach House’s nuts; I’m possibly the least partial judge of their new album “Teen Dream” at this university, so feel free to take my review with a grain of salt. It’s not just that they are from my home town, Baltimore — by that logic I’d have to be all over Sisqó (“Thong Song”), Yeasayer, Animal Collective, Frank Zappa, Dan Deacon, SR-71, All Time Low, Good Charlotte, and Of a Revolution (by the way, for those interested, that is a rank ordered list, best to worst). It’s also not just that Beach House’s oh-so-soothing first two albums are the only cure I’ve been able to find for my self-diagnosed life-threatening insomnia. Nor is my extreme attachment to the band related to the fact that one of the most transcendent and romantic moments of my life was at a semi-impromptu midnight concert they gave this past summer in a parking lot surrounded by broken down warehouses. Rather, it is the complete and utter beauty of their music which so captivates me.
I’m a sucker for shoegaze. It’s like ambient music, but since it isn’t glorified muzak, it is able to hold my attention for more than 5 minutes; it’s like rock, but far smoother, and celestial, and full of soft beauty; it’s like progressive rock, except that its high-arching themes never breach the realm of masturbatory insipidness; and it’s like psychedelic music, except it sometimes makes sense. Given this, I was always going to be a fan of Beach House. I just didn’t know that I would love them as much as I do.
Victoria Legrand, who is half of the band along with Alex Scally, has an amazing voice. It’s not throaty, or insubstantial, but damn is it soothing. I can’t help but think that every song (even the soon-to-be single “Zebra,” which is about a “black and white horse”) is full of the most intense meaning. She is the selling point for Beach House. Even when the songs get repetitive or the drum machine gets old, Legrand’s voice is enough to transfix even the most apathetic of listeners.
If there is any problem with Teen Dream, it’s that it’s almost too exciting. With their first two albums, “Beach House” and “Devotion,” instant classics, I was able to let the soft world of their brand of dream pop float around me. That is to say, they’re really good soundtracks for doing anything relaxing. But “Teen Dream” is something more. It demands to be listened to. Legrand is more excellent than ever, and each composition on this album is different from the proceeding one. I tried doing my homework while listening to it, but I couldn’t — Beach House has recorded such an immersive, beautiful, and interesting record that I was veritably forced to pay attention.
As far as individual tracks go, “Zebra” and “Norway” are both great. But really: buy the whole album. It’s pretty much perfect.
In the interest of seeming unbiased I feel compelled to find something wrong with “Teen Dream.”
So here it is: the album art is non-notable.
But seriously, support this band, and get “Teen Dream.” It’s great music for making love.
“Teen Dream” is available online and in stores for $7.99 on Sub Pop Records.