Beach House: Teen Dream

Teen Dream cover

Invoking the time-honored rule-of-the-road that whoever’s driving runs the radio, I played this CD on a longish car trip weekend before this last, on which my 15-month-old son, my wife, and her mother were present, in between Kowloon Walled City’s Gambling On The Richter Scale and Richard Buckner’s Dents and Shells. Neither of the women in the car were particularly fond of the San Fransisco sludge quartet, but more interestingly, both preferred Dents and Shells to Teen Dream, which they characterized as “dreary” in comparison. An odd assessment given Mr. Buckner’s depressive reputation. But perhaps not so very off-base. Teen Dream is a bit of a rainy day album, likenable to vintage Mazzy Star, so it was perhaps too sunny a day, too pretty a drive through the country, to suit its mood. If the boy had an opinion, he didn’t voice it, but if he had, it would probably have sounded something like “eeeeeee durgle-durgle.”

I didn’t pay much attention to Beach House when the buzz was going around about their previous album. I follow a few of the bigger “indie” music web sites but I have a reflexive tendency to file anything they seem to be giving too much attention to under “trendy” and avoid it. It was a promotional stream on Spinner, engaged in out of curiosity, that convinced me I wanted to own a copy of Teen Dream. It’s a gorgeous album, and the band gets a lot of expression out of seemingly minimal elements — a burbling rhythmbox and a simple reverb-drenched guitar line, is at times about all they need behind Victoria Legrand’s voice to get the point across. The impression it leaves is more about the overall feel than about specific choruses, at least for the first few listens, but a few things stick out. One of my favorites: the keyboard line that drives “Lover Of Mine.”

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