Sometimes music is immediate; the sort of stuff that bludgeons you about the head the instant you click the play button. And sometimes its entirely the opposite – the kind of lilting, subtle organic mixture that needs a few listens to fully establish itself. Beach House – a Baltimore duo comprising of Alex Scally and sultry French siren Victoria Legrand – fall very firmly into the second camp.
Here’s an example to illustrate this: your humble correspondent took a friend to see them live a few months back, after badgering them beforehand with weeks of glowing recommendation. Halfway through the gig, the friend had a confession to make: ‘I just don’t get it’. A few days later, after digesting their last album ‘Teen Dream’ more fully, he changed his tune: ‘they’re incredible. One of my favorite bands in the world right now.’
And if any album of theirs is capable of doing this, it’s ‘Teen Dream’. Released in January 2010, it’s their third full-length effort following the well-received ‘Beach House’ (2006) and ‘Devotion’ (2008). Both of which are great, but neither of which reach the heights of their younger sibling.
What’s so special about these guys? Simply the love of melody and the craftsmanship that goes into their songs. Beach House are essentially this generation’s Teenage Fanclub: in thrall to warm fuzzy Byrds-esque harmony, adored by the critical fraternity yet not quite the megastars they should be, effortlessly cool, totally secure in their own sound and aesthetic. Bring this into 2011 with a few hints of My Bloody Valentine wooziness and you’ve got a winning little package.
Then there’s the voice: Legrand’s dusky, androgynous tone, a sound so distinct it adds something new and unique to a traditional musical formula, yet also remains warm and comforting at the same time. Just like ex-Concretes frontwoman Victoria Bergsman, expect her to catch the ear of those seeking guest vocalists with increasing regularity.
Plus they’ve already got a couple of high-profile fans …