Beach House
Teen Dream


3.0
good

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
January 27th, 2010 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Would take the timeshare in the Keys over this in a heartbeat.

Much like their namesake, Beach House as a musical construct is an escape, a carefully crafted fortress of peaceful reverie surrounded on all sides by walls of dreamy indie pop and buttressed by vocalist Victoria Legrand’s soft wails. Those more fortunate than me retreat to beach houses to get away from bustling city life or for simple weekend excursions; hipster listeners and blogosphere addicts alike come to Beach House for musical restoration of another sort, but it all comes down to the same thing: peaceful, relaxing quiet. Teen Dream, the duo’s third album (multi-instrumentalist Alex Scally being the other half) is their most fully realized effort yet, an album that truly captures the Beach House dynamic. It’s also much more exciting (well, as exciting as these two get) than 2008’s slothful Devotion, and features some of the most tasteful melodies Beach House have ever put down.

But the same problem that has plagued Beach House their entire career crops up here again, despite Teen Dream’s immediately fascinating soundscapes and seemingly effortless melodies. Whereas a beach house is generally considered a haven of sunshine, one of beauty and unrefined fun, Beach House themselves continue to craft songs that, while impeccably beautiful and fashioned with the delicate care of two master songsmiths, stand at a distance from the world, closed off by a sort of intangible iciness that lends too much of Teen Dream an ethereal quality that makes it nearly impossible to connect to.

Not that this seems much of an issue to begin with. The first few songs are practically flawless examples of how dream pop should be done, from the lilting chorus of “Zebra” to the resonant guitar of “Silver Soul” to the relentlessly catchy hum of first single “Norway.” I found myself fairly shocked that Beach House was actually engaging me at this juncture in their career, when I thought they had exhausted all their limited sound had to offer. But after the jazzy hop-step of “Used To Be,” perhaps Legrand’s strongest performance and easily the record’s most upbeat song, the second half of Teen Dream starts up and brings absolutely nothing new to the table.

It’s more a function of the Beach House vibe and mood rather than a failure of the band themselves that as Teen Dream flows on, the record continues to become more and more expressionless and indistinctive. Legrand and Scally perfect the dream-pop formula on the first half of the record, but their failure is in continuing to do the same thing over and over again for the second. It’s not particularly bad; the harmonies are as sharp as they always were, the crystalline song structures are as pure as ever, and the musicianship is predictably gorgeous. It’s just that the overall sameness of the material lends itself to a running-together, a flow of the album that tends to lead songs into each other and make it harder and harder to distinguish between individual tracks.

It’s this cold attention to detail, a single-minded directive to match a dream-pop aesthetic that lends Teen Dream its rather distant vibe and makes the album a success as a work of art, but one that seems strangely impersonal and aloof at the same time. Perhaps it’s Legrand’s androgynous vocals that so often seem restrained and unemotional, or the way the band treats melodic climaxes the same way they do the first verse of the song, with the same amount of ardor or lack thereof. It’s a shimmery, escapist release, without a doubt, but as anything more than a mild sleeping aid, Teen Dream fails to rise above its genre.



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user ratings (656)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Comatorium. (4.5)
Ever been to Merriweather?...

Eric (3.5)
When it comes down to it, Teen Dream is absolutely charming; little more, and little less....

Kiran EMERITUS (4)
There's something perpetually charming about Beach House and Teen Dream is their best release yet....


Comments:Add a Comment 
AggravatedYeti
January 27th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh look Rudy Klapper doesn't like dream pop :|

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2010


10435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

bumped from the expected 2.5 because I love the first half so much

hard for me to explain how I felt about this album so I came up with a cheesy metaphor

yeti a 3 is good you bitch

Digging: Tennis - Ritual In Repeat

AggravatedYeti
January 27th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fuck you Rudy! dreampop means at least a 3.5 -- don't you know?

pos'd by the way, you dirty skallywag

and I also probably agree with this review more than the others so, highfive.

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2010


10435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i wiped my ass with that 3.5 memo

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
January 27th 2010


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, totally agree. This album wavers between annoyingly unoffensive and plain nice. Wicked review too.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Waior
January 27th 2010


11451 Comments


I skimmed through this album in about fifteen minutes this morning looking for something
immediate but didn't catch much beyond a whole lot of decidedly safe pleasantness.

But hey, repeated listens are the ultimate test. We'll see!

thebhoy
Emeritus
January 27th 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[sarcasm]but Rudy, Pitchfork gave it a 9.0 and as we all know that makes your opinion invalid.[/sarcasm]



Kiran
Emeritus
January 28th 2010


6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

>:|

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2010


15036 Comments


man if every song was as good as zebra

AggravatedYeti
December 1st 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

they are?

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2010


15036 Comments


nah thats far and away the best song imo

most of the rest are pretty great too (silver soul and used to be are my jams rn) but thats the one i come back too

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
April 26th 2011


23828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't get this at all, it's so boring and.....safe. It's not bad, I'll probably give it a 2.5 or a 3, but why were people so excited about this when it came out?

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
April 26th 2011


15036 Comments


it takes time.

took me pretty much a full year in fact

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
April 26th 2011


23828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

hmm well I'm trying to like it because I'm seeing these guys at Sasquatch but I'm really really not feeling it right now.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
April 26th 2011


23828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

definitely feels like a summer album though, I think seeing them play at the end of May in 35 degree heat (Celsius, sorry yanks) may make me enjoy this more.

ohfoxxxycole
March 24th 2012


4353 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this bored me when it came out but im giving it another chance before I try the new one. Good review, exactly how I first felt



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