Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2010: Number 22

Beach House have taken their time getting here. Gracefully minimal, the sort of thing hipsters started carting the word 'ethereal' around for, what Victoria and Alex were really in need of was a damn good wash of sound. Teen Dream found them finding their range, being careful not to fill out the gaps too much when the spaces left by their dream-pop manque made them what they were. You'd still willingly call them blurry, like overaged VHS or Galaxie 500 stripped of overamplification, but it's not liable to cause drowsiness any more. Instead the template has been opened up, shinier while still locating the open spaces, far less rigid without sacrificing the key drones.

Even Victoria Legrand's voice has changed, a far huskier, all but masculine comeliness that offsets potential gleam, smouldering even as everything around it takes off. The skeletal, shifting guitar figure prodding at Zebra, taken on by a great wash of synth, is added extra foggy intrigue by Legrand's ambiguity. Even if Norway is built merely on basic drum machine patterns and a keyboard line that tremelos and swerves like My Bloody Valentine in synth form it still seems ambitiously reaching for the heights. These are songs decorated lucidly with partly submerged hooks and choruses, floating hazily above the basics urged on by Legrand at her most powerful (see Walk In The Park) or cagily bottling up before exploding into the vanishing point (10 Mile Stereo). On the Grizzly Bear in quicksand Used To Be they even manage to incorporate classic Motown rhythms without spoiling the view. Rewarding careful listening while maintaining a set downsized framework, it's a set of simple songs with complicated undersides, underlit for full bright as the sunshine effect.


Norway (live)

The full list

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