Friday, January 29, 2010

BEACH HOUSE Teen Dream - LP

Beach House
Teen Dream
2010, Sub Pop Records
9 out of 10

Magnificent! This is the word to properly describe Beach House’s third full-length album, Teen Dream. Following this Charm City duo’s stunning 2008 sophomore release, Devotion, Beach House expand on their gauzy, thrift store dream-voodoo with equal parts maturity, emotion and sophistication - blending 90’s shoegaze, 80’s new wave, and elements of 70’s rock into an album that is effortlessly mesmerizing and perfect. Victoria Legrand’s whimsical keyboard flourishes and cathedral-filling vocals are perfectly matched by the Alex Scally’s shimmering guitar, especially on tracks such as “Norway,” “Silver Soul” and the brilliant “Walk in the Park.” Elsewhere, “Lover of Mine” rides a crest of ethereal bass and keyboard currents that sound like Atari’s Space Invaders descending upon an indie-rock disco. “Used To Be” is a warmer re-working of the 2008 single of the same name, where the overcast melancholy has been replaced with cold comfort and joy. The epic “10 Mile Stereo” glides on Sigor Ros-ian synth and string swells, while “Real Love” finds Legrand channeling her inner Stevie Nicks over delicate piano and distant percussion. Teen Dream is truly one of 2010’s best records; a splendid album that won’t so much rock you, as it will move you - magnificently, of course.

14 comments:

  1. Bleh. Why not Au Revoir Simone or Club 8? They're boring too but with slightly better songs.

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  2. Still working that contrarian angle, aye Hams?

    While I'm not a huge fan of Club 8, I will say that Au Revoir Simon do write some fairly outstanding and songs. They're David Lynche's favorite band, don'tcha know.

    Also, neither of these two bands (Club 8 or Au Revoir Simone) currently have new albums out, as Beach House currently do. That's why.

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  3. Dude, you deleted my comment on the Spoon article?

    I didn't mean like why are you reviewing this new album instead of reviewing Club 8's 2007 and AS's 2009 albums, I just don't get why you are championing this mediocre band so much.

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  4. What Spoon comment of yours did I delete? I promise you, I don't delete comments here on my blog. Repost your original comment and there it will stay.

    "Mediocre"? Wow, that's pretty harsh. I mean, I know Beach House is no Propaghandi or the solo stuff from that one guy from Weezer who's name I forgot, but still...

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  5. I didn't say they sucked, they're totally too nondescript to suck, just sort of a whimpy Siouxsie Sioux meets a limp, poor man's cat power, something to buy, listen to once, wish you had bought one of the other LPs you had been looking at, and then never listen to again. Totally doesn't suck though, for reals.

    Sorry, I thought since you had deleted stuff off Facebook that you might have deleted my comment on the Spoon article which was basically just saying you are reviewing the same records as NPR, which seemed like a not so great trajectory to me, since on the same show they had covered the Fleetfoxes and Kesha.

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  6. I like how you mention Beach House as being "too nondescript" and then, in the same sentence, describe them as sounding like two other bands. "A poor man's Cat Power..."? Really? If I were to really compare Beach House's sound to anyone's, it would have to be A.C. Marias, but even that comparison is marginal.

    I must disagree with you. I've been listening to "Teen Dream" since its release, and it just keeps getting better and better. It has been a very long time since I've enjoyed a new release like I have with this album. The songs are great, the production as near flawless as indie albums can get, and the song sequencing spot on. A perfect album, in my noble opinion.

    NPR reviews a lot of records. They have a much bigger budget than I do.

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  7. Haha, yeah I thought about that after I wrote it, I meant to say they are not distinct enough to suck, although yes, they sound dirvative of other bands this is not enough to make them distinct, they sound like music too, boring music.

    NPR reviews and promotes a lot of terrible music, and anyways, it might be more interesting for your readers if you reviewed albums that haven't been reviewed up the wazoo by the mainstream press, The new Spoon album debut on the freaking Billboard 200, you're a music guy, I know you can review and promote better LPs that not everyone and their Mom have heard.

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  8. I think you're operating under the assumption that independent music is still underground and coveted only by true music fans. Thanks to the Internet age, nothing is underground, and everything is exposed.

    Sure, Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga debuted on the Billboard Top 200. They've sweated and slaved 15 long years to get there. I'd say they earned the praise of their fanbase in the form of sales, which the Top 200 represents. The Shins got on there once. So have Weezer (*Yawn!*). Several times. Same with Bright Eyes (*Snore*).

    "Everyone and their Mom..."? I dunno. Has your Mom heard of Spoon? Mine hasn't. And even if they had, so what? They still make great music.

    Magnetic Fields is also getting some attention from NPR. Does that ruin Magnetic Fields for you? Are they less of a band because of this? Of course not. And it shouldn't.

    I review music I like. I like Spoon and I like Beach House. A LOT! I'm going to write these reviews because i like (and some times dislike) this stuff. If people don't want to read this stuff, they can simply ignore it.

    Simple as that.

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  9. No, I don't think that at all, certainly Beach House is very well known and has also been covered by NPR and other big media outlets but they are obvs much newer and less known than Spoon who are like one of those heritage brand Indie bands like Pavement or Magnetic Fields [only different for me since I like those two bands]. Is a band still an Indie band after signing with Elektra? I guess technically yes since they were dropped by the label, I would still leave their albums in the "Pop/Rock" section of the store, nothing wrong with that, plenty of amazing music there [like Pavement].
    You should review anything you like for sure, you should review "Rubber Soul" that album is awesome, or "Nevermind" or anything else that gets 1,370,000 hits on Google.

    I guess the only point I was trying to make about NPR is that they review a lot of awful music, I would say like 90-95% [I would include boring disposible music like Beach House in this figure even though I don't think they are aweful at all]; so if I found I was digging a lot of those records I would find this to be at least a little troubling becuase it would mean either they are reviewing better albums or I am enjoying shit music, sort of like a "if it's too loud you're too old" type of test of ones musical taste.

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  10. So Spoon loses their "indie cred" because they had one album on Elektra? Really? Pavement's brighten The Corners (arguably that bands best album) was on Capital. So how do you square that?

    You should also know that Spoon produced their new record themselves, in their own studio and released this record on Merge Records, as they have for the last couple of years, with zero label input as to how the record should sound. Spoon seems pretty "indie" to me.

    Labels, popularity, tags... all that junk is out the window these days. Those little indie bands that used to be "our" secret are on the peripherals of the mainstream radar now, like it or not. However, instead of record labels controlling 100% of the purse strings, it's the bands calling the shots, licensing their music for commercials, soundtracks, ring tones, etc. Yes, independently.

    I think I understand what you're getting at in regard to reviewing these records: "why not review records that have not been reviewed to death?," and all that. Well there are two answers to that question: 1.) I received both the *new* Beach House and Spoon records to review for the Sc News & Review, and 2.) I actually like both of these records very much, and felt the need to review them positively.

    Look, I live in sort of a bubble here: all shit's new to me. If these records were reviewed by NPR, well that's to be expected, right? I mean, Spoon's big and Beach House is getting huge (I'm talking Shins-type success around the corner for this band). In my opinion, Teen Dream is an absolutely amazing album, from start to finish. Near-flawless, actually. If I share this opinion with NPR, good on them. They have great taste in regard to this album.

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  11. Dude, you need to re-read my post, I clearly state they would be in good company with Pavement.

    I also say they WOULD be Indie [=Independant Label] because of the fact that they were dropped by Elektra. Are you proposing that "Indie" should no longer refer to music put out on independant labels? Is Green Day indie because they put out albums on Lookout and Skene in the early 90's before signing with Reprise. Is Indie just a general sound or aesthetic now?

    I think the bottom line here is that you like these 2 albums, I never thought you didn't, and clearly I do not, also, you're reviewing them for N&R, this makes sense.

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  12. Of course Green Day isn't indie (weren't they considered punk at one point in time?) Green Day sells-out arena, has major label corporate backing when they tour and make gobs of money every time they release an album. Green Day is like a well-oiled, money-making machine. They are as far from the independent music spectrum as Sting is.

    I highly doubt small bands like Beach House or Spoon enjoy a fraction of the luxury Green Day does, and have to work 110% harder touring just to afford a burrito.

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  13. Yes, punk was considered independent music at one time, believe it or not. Are you saying it's not the label but the amount of money you make that determines if you are indie or not?

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  14. Also, I wouldn't hold onto the dream that Spoon are poor artists who have to work really hard for burrito's [unless they've REALLY mismanaged their affairs] I'm sure they could buy everyone we know a burrito everyday.

    Totally happy to continue talking about this if you want, we can explore this further.

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