Review Summary: Beach House's debut lays the foundation for a quiet, tranquil mood and sustains it with its own brand of endearing dream pop songs.
Dreaming is sometimes an inexplicable part of life. It can bring us to long haunted hallways in which our feet suddenly become too heavy to sprint from the shadowy demon behind us, but it can also bring us to pristine locations free of apprehension and swaddled in serenity. On their first record, the dream pop duo Beach House strive for the latter. Beach House lay the groundwork for a slow ascent into a blissful and relaxing sort of limbo. The sound they pull of is sweet, shy, and happily slender.
Listening to Beach House
the first few times is, in many ways, like a dream. At first, it's likely the listener won't remember any minor details or even the songs themselves. With time, however, the picture becomes slightly less blurry. Getting there requires an honest effort from the listener since this is not the most engaging music on the planet. Beach House's music does not intentionally reach out and grab you, so it's quite easy to let this album coast by, moving in one ear and out the other. The music does serve well when relegated to the status of background music, yet it also delivers a degree of catharsis to those willing to take the first steps into Beach House's tranquil world.
The duo's style is very basic, implementing drum machines that usually serve as nothing more than metronomes and focusing primarily on the guitars, keyboards, and Victoria Legrand's dainty vocals. The consistent mood they set allows for plenty of unwinding to take place since the soundscapes they design are so inoffensive and subdued. Take "Apple Orchard" for example, a nostalgic lullaby, where Legrand's benign voice is the driving force for the steady instruments that float solemnly above, creating a foggy effect. Beach House
is saturated with pleasant imagery that almost always points to love, which is fitting since the dream pop sound the duo takes under their wing is so endearing.
The issue with Beach House
is the lack of variety. At times, the album sounds too comfortable for its own good, and its sense of personal contentment does not translate into complete satisfaction. For the most part, the songs are mellow, sluggish, and slow to evolve, if at all. Still, with patience, there is plenty to appreciate in the unobtrusive sounds that Beach House unleash. Songs like "Childhood" and "Master of None" each offer their own fine glitter in an amicable domain. Being able to tolerate Beach House's fatigued execution is the key to enjoying their bittersweet music. Occasionally, the duo lets out more than the listener learns to expect, especially on the outstanding "Auburn and Ivory". Not only does Legrand's voice take flight in compact spurts but the guitar and keyboards germinate alongside her. Beach House give their music the ample space and accommodation to grow organically, and even if it does not convince the listener instantly, it leaves a nice impression.
It's easy to mistake the duo's poise for lethargy. The record does progress at a slow pace, but it luckily ends before the mood is lost in tediousness. This album forms a welcoming reverie marked by romance and weightlessness. Through their smooth performance, Beach House transmit a feeling of security, and a few tracks into the record, they can definitely be trusted not to disturb the peace. The circulating guitar and bells on "House on the Hill", for instance, set the mood but do not dictate the song's direction. Many of the songs seem to ultimately go nowhere, yet in this winsome realm that Beach House construct, there is no urgency or genuine need for them to depart.
is certainly a grower, given its unassuming nature and passive sense of ease. Over time, the beauty begins to poke its head out amongst the quiet haze, and Beach House's hushed manner crystallizes into their own form of affection. This album is not mind-blowing, nor is it very lively. However, Beach House fondly nudge the ears toward a temporary escape and treat them with the utmost respect.
Auburn and Ivory
House on the Hill