Though with a much shorter history, Beach House has recently joined the likes of Animal Collective and Bon Iver in making the successful transition from cult greats to festival headliners. Their latest album Teen Dream, released in 2010, shows a band who have found their creative goldmine and give no signs of exhausting it.
The album title itself gives us the best insight into what it contains. For the band still retains their dream pop feel, but are also able to discard the lethargy that often slowed down their previous two albums. Instead they inject a new energy and confidence reflecting the self-confidence and egocentrism that comes with adolescence. For example their anthem ‘Walk in the Park’, turns a mundane activity into a moment of extreme self-assessment that eventually filter down into the mesmeric couplet repeated ‘More you want more, you tell me./ More only time can know you”. Of course, all the songs are never too far from love, and the mingling of naivety and hope makes them heart wrenching, especially ‘Real Love’.
However, Teen Dream is a project of nostalgia not re-enactment. The band have refined their musical skills and discarded all pretensions to produce a very raw effect. Alex Scally, the guitarist, no longer employs winding solos as in their previous album Devotion but instead finds an efficient riff, varying between finger-picking, plectrum and slide, and puts full faith into it. Victoria Legrand, the vocalist, no longer has the grungy tone of their first single ‘Apple Orchard’, but has developed into the sexiest voice in the industry. So with this nostalgic album, she is able to supply a woman’s voice to a girl’s feelings, such as the enchanting moans to ‘Norway’. In fact, the most chilling moments are when we can hear her pushing her vocals to their limits such as in ‘Silver Soul’, highlighting that she has even more feeling to give than even her voice can allow.
So right now, Beach House is at the peak of their career, and in fact developing their youthful spirit as they improve, but they are just an example of how strong American alternative music is right now, that such idiosyncratic performers can create such a universally appealing sound.