In a church in upstate New York, Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand of Beach House detached themselves from the outside world to create their third album, Teen Dream. Released Jan. 26, it is their first under the Sub Pop music label.
In 2008, Beach House released Devotion, which garnered substantial attention on the music scene. There was much concern as to whether or not their distinctive sound (which has been categorized by many as "dream-pop") would end up repetitive and lackluster, but Teen Dream's release shatters all those speculations.
Legrand and Scally have pressed on to perfect their sound, and it works. Legrand's vocals blend into the accompanying music beautifully and with such a fantastic range and subdued pronunciation of words it suggests her voice is just another instrument. Legrand's vocals are haunting, and they amplify the presence of pain and loneliness that course through the album. The use of an organ and simple percussion add to this overall feel.
Although they are rather hard to understand at times, the lyrics are not to be missed. The themes of love and loneliness reverberate throughout the album. It seems there is no order or story line they follow but therein lies the beauty of it. The reality of love is there are ups and downs, loves fade and new ones arrive, and the chaos of that cycle is shown through the seemingly random track order.
In the most distinct love song on the album, "Take Care," Legrand strongly asserts her emotions, singing "Fall so fast it feels too late/I'd take care of you if you ask me to." Despite the ideas of love, the ideas of hesitation and the helplessness of being in love are still present, keeping with the theme found in various songs throughout the album. This is also exemplified in "Silver Soul," as Legrand sings, "It's a sickness, a manic weakness, yeah/It is happening again."
It is rather difficult to find a weak track in Teen Dream, as each has a distinct character and lends something important to the overall feel of the album. The album's opening track, "Zebra," is not to be missed. With a simple, defined guitar and dreamlike "ahs" running gently behind Legrand's wonderfully showcased vocals, the listener is powerless to do anything but stop and pay attention.
Beach House might catch some criticism for doing little to reinvent its music, but in all reality the band has perfected its unique sound.