Review Summary: Beach House are the dark horse.
On last year’s The Besnard Lakes’ …Are the Dark Horse
, the Beach Boys influenced indie-blah rockers tried to mesh their lighthearted pop-rock with melancholic apprehension. They wanted to be the party and the drunken stumble home. They wanted to make their cake, jump out of it, and eat it too. With Beach House’s follow-up to their 2006 self-titled debut, Devotion
, they take this basic conceit, move it to the East coast, cut out the middle man and head straight for the liquor cabinet with sleepy abandon. As a record, it’s wholly more stable, creating dreamy whirls of lo-fi pop and shoegaze rock. As this record, Devotion
fully congeals into a satisfying and believable listen. As the creators of this record, Beach House never surprise or vary, but they play it straight, and that’s quite alright for those sleepy hangovers.
“Oh, but your wish is my command,” Victoria Legrand states erotically into the washing machine tempo of the chorus to “Wedding Bell.” With a frigid production that runs through the length of Devotion
, much of the emotion such as the erotic favor Legrand grants feels nuanced and personal, taking the sequenced crunch of guitars in “Wedding Bell” to erratic heights. And though the production creates a tinny wash to such cymbal battered tracks like “You Came To Me,” it appropriately creates a thick, hazy, and sleepy atmosphere that shifts the attention from what Legrand is saying to how she says it. Like a sultry feline, Legrand holds the fragile pieces of Devotion
together, becoming a hollow echo in “Turtle Island” and a high octave angel in “Heart of Chambers.” Alex Scally might play second fiddle to Legrand’s earthy and soulful performance, but he holds his own in trajectory, dotting his lullabies with frequent guitar slides and chord progressions. “Heart of Chambers” shifts in its last quarter to a power chord lacking power, while a tropical vibe permeates through out the otherwise spacey nuances of “Astronaut.”
But quirks and personalities make up the dreamscapes in Devotion
. Rain pellets fall elegantly around the tingling tambourine and Legrand’s low vocal melody in “Some Things Last a Long Time,” turning the rainy afternoon into a flood. Legrand’s powerful coos and shakes in “Gila” stand out in an album full of highlights for the powerhouse performer, with the nonchalance of Cat Power or the songwriting tic of Elliott Smith. “Don’t waste your time,” beautifully offsets the lingering “oh, oh, oh, oh” employed thereafter, which is as sweet an invite to sit back and relax as any. But the true serenity of the still too-safe, too-pretty Devotion
comes when the sun finally rises on “Home Again,” where tambourines and finger snaps gently wrap around the looped warps in melody. It begs for the record to begin again, which in itself is a victory for the repetitive Devotion
. The album truly is beautiful within its down tempo setting, and as a soundtrack for the morning after, there’s nothing quite like keeping the lights off and the volume low and simply letting Devotion
get you through the day.