Available on: Sub Pop LP

Just when you thought the salvo of weird American bands had abated with the last of the Best of 2009 lists being consigned to the recycle bin, along come Beach House, riding in the slipstream. Two albums in, Baltimore residents Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally are already poking their heads above the parapet of obscurity, and Teen Dream, their third LP is their chance to nod towards accessibility without sacrificing credibility. Let’s face it, if ever there was a time to do it, now’s probably good.

Thing is, those looking for the next faintly interesting band from across the pond will be disappointed by Beach House’s muted sonic conservatism – much of Teen Dream props itself too readily upon a kind of medicated numbness; the insistent organ figure of ‘Used to Be’ feels like Fleet Foxes resigned to their own folk ennui, ‘Walk in the Park’ recalling a sedated Grizzly Bear.

It seems perfectly fitting that the album trudges towards last track ‘Take Care’, which sounds eerily reminiscent to Spiritualized Ladies and Gentlemen… with an American Apparel makeover.  The brief splutters of electronic phlegm that appear now and then simply feel like token gestures to mollify those who think Panda Bear is avant-garde.

It’s a shame because there are times when Beach House capture a vibrancy that is entirely at odds with the mood of the album. The partnership of Scally’s slurring, processed slide guitar and Legrand’s yawning vocal is deliciously woozy, while ‘10 Mile Stereo’ is a twinkling nugget of twilit dream pop that unfurls into a filmic crescendo. These are bursts of colour in an album where all the tones bleed into one; a sepia half light which some will perceive as a narcotic haze, but could easily be mistaken for effervescent beige.

Louise Brailey



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