Reviews:: Beach House Beach House

From the Casiotone for the Painfully Alone-esque intro of Saltwater to the final breath of Heart and Lungs, Beach House's debut album is an ambitious project that exposes you to highlights and mistakes. While the highlights are great, it’s the subtle mistakes that give this album life. In an age where boy/girl two-piece bands are popping up like junior high boy’s pants during Blue Nuit, it’s refreshing to find one that isn’t making over-produced bubble gum pop or gritty blues. Rather than relying on catchy keyboard riffs and drums, this band uses simple drum machines rhythms and a vintage organ to form the backbone and tone of the songs.

Perhaps the most endearing thing about this record is that it sounds like a band you could start. That’s not to say the music isn’t great, but from the opening beat they programmed on the drum machine, no sound that Victoria Legrand or Alex Scully produce is overly complex. Much like the Velvet Underground, it’s not the sounds they use, it’s the way they put those sounds together. It’s obvious that Legrand’s vocals will get compared to Nico’s, but to me it’s the strains and frailty of her voice that is Nico-esque, and what makes the vocal lines seem so emotional.

Tending to stay with the down-tempo numbers, this two-piece experiments with harmonies, layers, textures and moods without losing the intimacy of the work. Instead of finding a pattern and running with it, the duo adds a range of new instruments to help forge their own sound. The perfectly placed slide guitar on Apple Orchard that takes the song from another electronica number and adds a country-crying in your beer feel (when Legrand utter the line, “You always give me what you don’t want to hold, Ask the questions that you don’t know at all” you can’t not feel her emotion), and the percussion and fuzzy bass line of Lovelier Girl completes the reflective nature of the song.

It’s an investment to sit through the record, and the casual listener might get fooled into believing the songs aren’t that diverse. Each listen unfolds a new sound; much like the slow development of a character in a book. With every note or turned page you are introduced to new wrinkles, like the haunting strings on Auburn and Ivory, or the Japanese film score intro and gradual swell of House on the Hill. It’s easy to understand that this band is finding their sound and the next album will be even better, but I hope that they don’t drift too far from makes this album so good.

Beach House is playing Pat's Pub here in Vancouver Nov. 11th. Should be a nice show.
MP3:: Master of None


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