Review Summary: A beautiful, woozy, dreamy, waving summer album.
Cut to you - sitting on a towel in the warm, fine sand, on a beautiful Hawaiian beach. Listening to the waves and the seagulls, and, strangely enough, listening to the peace. The calm. The bliss you've obtained. The waves and animals seem to produce the perfect soundtrack to your day of soothing relaxation. And, while that is quite a delicately stunning soundtrack to have seeping into your ears for an hour, it is not the only one...
Some bands or singers have mastered the art of sounding like a season. For instance, indie superstar Bright Eyes' Cassadaga
sounds like a fresh, newly lit spiring day in Florida. The album Vespertine
from Icelandic singing sensation Bjork sounds just like a blanketed winter evening. And there are many more who claim their own textures. But, this duo known as Beach House are quite special in the sense that they capture the essence of summer in a bottle. And they make it seem so simple. Sometimes, even, they hint at sounding autumnal, too.
opens with Saltwater
's pulsing drum machines and then adds chugging synth and organ, with a touch of distortion and a lot of reverb. It's a little much at first, but when singer/organist Victoria Legrand's vocals kick in, you know you're in for a treat. She sings so purely and it just sways out of the speakers. The lyrics are a bit difficult to understand due to heavy density, lo-fi sound, and lots of reverb. But, the last line you hear before it cuts right to the second track, "You couldn't lose me if you tried," though so straightforward, it's one of the most believable sentiments I've heard in months.
By the time you get a little bit into the fantastically orchestrated, but nearly incomprehensible Tokyo Witch
, you realize that there's not going to be a whole lot of differentiation. But, you can't deny the somewhat unbearably beautiful wooziness and dreaminess of their original sound. Original sound? But they sound so similar to Mazzy Star, or Nico!
But they don't. They're similar, but they produce a sound all their own. Especially on the fantastic third track, Apple Orchard
. With its insanely gorgeous organ waves, you can just picture yourself in that aforementioned spot on the beach. "You only give me what you don't want to hold." Perfect.
Auburn and Ivory
is a bit different. It starts with a chilling harpsichord and some creepy waving vocals, and even a random sound that you know means they messed up. That's a good thing. They mess up slightly a couple times, and it adds to the album's honesty. This is one of Legrand's best vocal works, as is House on a Hill
, the least memorable but most beautifully sung track.
I admit that the last four songs merely do not match up to the first five. It seems as if they had two very-slightly different sets of songs, but didn't bother to mix them up, and just laid them side by side. Lovelier Girl
, the most happy sounding-song, with the best melody might I add, fails to remain too memorable, and when it's over, you don't even really mind, let alone notice (since you're probably in a daze, anyway.) However, closer Heart and Lungs
is a truly beautiful number, of minimalistic beauty that nearly paralyzed me as I listened to its fading harmonies. (Not to mention, it sounds like a crisp autumn afternoon in a piny forest.)
Beach House is two people, and never once does their debut sound like any more. It's a very simple duo, but a very effective one. They don't seem cluttered, they seem comfortable. We can only hope that they improve on their differentiation, seeing as the beautiful, summer-waves of the first half triumph over the second half. Wooziness, charm, and undeniable divinity strikes this record, but so does fault. So, it's kind of an album that is beautiful, but not much else. However, it is the perfect soundtrack to laying on the beach. Damn seagulls!
INDIVIDUAL TRACK RATINGS:
Saltwater - 4/5
Tokyo Witch - 3.5/5
Apple Orchard - 5/5 *
Master of None - 5/5 *
Auburn and Ivory - 4/5
Childhood - 3/5
Lovelier Girl - 3.5/5
House on a Hill - 3.5/5
Heart and Lungs - 4.5/5 *
* = track pick