Let's be honest. It's been pretty difficult to avoid the hype surrounding Beach House since about mid-November when the new record "Teen Dream" leaked. The date of official release is rapidly approaching (January 26th on Sub-Pop) so it's time to throw my two cents into the fountain I think...
I refrained from checking this band out too much until this weekend truth be told. 'Norway' was the only song I'd ever even heard from them (It was made available as a free download on their website and on itunes in order to promote the album. Clearly it managed its task adequately, with the entire blogosphere quivering in anticipation!) and even that had fallen by the wayside due to the multitude of the new music tumbling into my lap lately (new Midlake, Hot Chip, Broken Bells, Gorillaz, etc, etc.) but I decided to give it a spin on Friday evening after hearing a Grizzly Bear cover of Hot Chip's 'And I Was A Boy From School' [WELL worth checking out. I found it on youtube after searching 'grizzly bear hot chip' so shouldn't be difficult!!] This link is of course not entirely unconnected, with Beach House's Victoria Legrand contributing vocals to Grizzly Bear's wonderful record "Veckatimest" and 'Slow Life', the track the group recorded for the soundtrack to the abhorrent Twilight sequel...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASbayZo2gpw (Don't judge the song on the awful film it was composed for - Grizzly Bear and Victoria Legrand should be immensely proud! A beautiful work.)
Anyway, enough of my side-tracking and back to an actual review!
'Norway' is a beautiful song. I had heard the phrase dream pop used to describe Beach House and, while I cringed at the phrase itself, I can see why. The combination of haunting vocals and synth-pop is the exact sort of image that is conjured by the usage of such an idiom. Friday night saw me listen to 'Norway' practically on repeat for most of an hour, only stopping to listen to 'Slow Life' to see if everything Legrand put her hand to was as good.
The next day I managed to get my hands on the rest of the album (oh it pays to have contacts some times!!) and if I'm being brutally honest here I was a little disappointed. "Teen Dream" is a nice album. And 'nice' has both good and bad connotations I think. While I don't object to having it playing in the background, I'm not sure if this is an album I would be playing after a long-day in college to relax myself, such as I do with "Veckatimest" or something of a similar vein.
That said, there is much to enjoy on this record. As I write here I am listening to the record, and I must say I am enjoying more now than I did the first time. Perhaps it is a grower - I certainly hope so. This is an album I really wanted to love. There are certainly a number of tracks to love. 'Norway', as I said, is a stunning song - my pick of the bunch. I'd also have to say the album opener 'Zebra' and lead single 'Used To Be' are well worth checking out.
Unfortunately I think this album falls into a trap. Whether intentionally or not, it fully embraces the dreamy nature of its title. I found it quite difficult to pick out individual tracks, bar the few I've already mentioned - the record almost glazes into one. As if it truly were a dream, the details are a blur and only when I recount them back to myself do I realise that something key is missing.
"Teen Dream" has been well received by bloggers all over the world, critics are gushing and it looks set to be one of the big hits of the first quarter of the year. I just can't help but feel Beach House were on the verge of something great, only for it to fall away before they achieved it. There is much to love here and, as I said, the record is in fact growing on me; but for now "Teen Dream" gets a 3.5-4/5 for me. Over time I may come to love this record, but for now I'm gonna stick with Grizzly Bear for my daily dose of dream-pop.
Feel free to tell me what you think of the record! I'd be quite pleased to hear more views and opinions.
- Cork, Ireland
- An Irish based alternative music blog. Music news, gigs, live reviews, album reviews... You'll find them here. If you want anything featured or removed, please shout. I hope you'll discover something new to love on this little experiment of mine. Currently editing the Music Section of the UCC Express and contributing to Motley magazine on campus, as well as writing for PopCultureMonster and 4FortyFour. Always looking for new projects so please get in touch if interested. Thanks for reading.