Beach House – Teen Dream (second attempt at review)

The first review I did of this album in my “Top 5 albums of 2010” list was woefully lacklustre. Here is another to compensate.

One night I went to visit a friend at university a train ride away. The short version is that I got drunk, embarrassed myself and collapsed on someone’s bed while the party continued without me. The long version is fairly similar but it involved declarations of undying love for male friends and – being the annoying music militant I am – me proclaiming that anyone who thought The Dandy Warhols’ third was anything less than an era-defining classic did not deserve freedom of speech or the right to a fair trial. It was a good night, apparently. Anyway, I woke up at six AM, totally, totally miserable and ashamed, sure that I had caused everyone to hate me, so, when everyone was still asleep, I did what I always did in those situations: I made a dramatic exit. It was minus two degrees outside and everything was only just visible in the dim streetlights creating urban postcard images with the frost. It was then that I put on Beach House. There is no better time than this to listen to ‘Teen Dream’. It’s a chilly, icy record in its sound, but the sentiments behind it are pure warmth, despite inviting no clichés. Lyrics are rich in imagery, dressed in Victoria LeGrand’s androgynous vocals. She’s got the sort of voice where she sounds as if she’s been drinking a glass of hot cider in the snow, like her breath is rising in coils of gentle steam. The music is largely built upon quietly hissing drum machines, clean guitars and organs along with the occasional sighing choir. It even tilts dangerously close to shoegaze on the gorgeous hymn to uncertainty and doubt ’10 Mile Stereo’, where Alex Scally’s guitar becomes a passing train that never seems to end. The instrumentation remains fairly constant throughout but each song has its own character and you feel like you learn more about that character with each additional listen. It was recorded in a church and it has the sound to match it with its generous, but never overdone, reverb. There’s also the fact that it sounds almost like a prayer, not to a God, but to someone in your head; saying things that will never, in the end, be said.

Paranoid as I am, I was convinced everyone at the party then hated me. If there’s one thing I can rely on, it’s that I will always think that I am loathed. When I was listening to ‘Teen Dream’ at the station though, for a split second, it felt as if I didn’t care, as long as the music kept playing. Time has passed, no one at the party actually hates me, and ‘Teen Dream’ is still one of the best albums I’ve heard all year.
Listen to this: On a long walk at 6AM in the cold.
Key Track: Used To Be


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Tony on January 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I always enjoy reading your reviews, they’re not formal and detached nor are they too informal and ‘buddyish’. You’ve got just the right balance. Keep up the good work.


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