Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., Feb. 5, 2010
Beach HouseTeen Dream (Sub Pop)
Beach House's previous two albums – 2006's self-titled debut and Devotion two years later – worked well as set-pieces, jumping between stoned love songs and mystic invocations, accented with warm wind chimes and other shore sounds. Those albums were the aural equivalent of Xanax, and it worked for the Baltimore duo, but on its Sub Pop debut, the dynamic shifts subtly. It still sounds like a Beach House album – Victoria Legrand's drowsy, rolling keys; Alex Scally's chiming guitar – but the druggy effect has worn off. "Zebra" and "10 Mile Stereo" are upbeat, Legrand measuring out some of the Stevie Nicks thunder waiting to come booming out of her. Restraint allows them to make better use of their set-pieces, however, birthing some of the album's more fully realized songs. Drums sound like drums, not programmed beats on "Used to Be" and "Silver Soul," and Legrand elbows out some heavy piano pining on "Real Love." She expands her vocal range as well, going from husky to bell-clear in one swoop, but spends too much time filling empty space with hey-ey-eys and oh-oh-ohs instead of actual lyrics, like on "Norway." The album centerpiece is "Lover of Mine," which wants to be Teen Dream's "Rhiannon," but it only gets halfway up the mountain. A solid third LP, but it's not Beach House's "masterpiece." They've still got some gold dust to kick up.