Beach House’s “Teen Dream”

“I have found this a worthwhile listen and even especially poignant to me artistically and relationally speaking. The sounds are richly felt and the lyrics intriguing, the expressions of true artists.” -Holly Etchison

Holly Etchison

out of 10

Beach House
Teen Dream
January 26, 2010
Sub Pop

Times at the shore are replete with possibilities, especially when you’re young. Sun, sand, shifting tides–castles are built and forgotten with the moon’s pull. Fond memories are created and capsulized. Conclusions (and the need to make any) become as nebulous as the point where the ocean meets the sky. It is a place for casting cares, ruminating on the ones you have, or floating to the point of oblivion. The perfect place to put Teen Dream, the third album from “dream pop” duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, on repeat. And if you can’t make it to a time share this summer, play it at home, or in the car and rest assured: Beach House has gone there for you.

Recalling the ghosts of Velvet Underground-ians past, Legrand’s voice is strangely lovely, lilting in a grounded way. It hauntingly weaves thematic threads on the nature of relationships–past, present, lost forever or teetering on the horizon’s edge–thru a solid framework of ethereal instrumentation. Dramatic musical segues occur in many of the songs, underscoring the importance of certain lyrics to the song’s meaning, like a conversation of notes.  The lyrics themselves are sparsely intricate, thought provoking in a delicate way.

As fascinating and pleasant as the striped horse of its namesake, “Zebra” opens the album with mesmerizing guitar licks, oohs and aahs, and quizzical lyrics. It leads the pack in its unique black and white camouflage: “Don’t I know you better than the rest, all deception, all deception from you.”

Things pick up heat with “Silver Soul,“ which seems to cover the cycle (it is happening again) of being with someone out of need, of needing someone. Elvis crooned, “We’re caught in a trap, I can’t walk out because I love you too much baby.”  Beach House sings, “We gather matters of the heart so we can act a fool.”

“Walk In The Park” ruminates on wanting to escape a situation, emotionally or physically, all the while ensuring that the listener’s not going anywhere with a fantastic chorus: “In a matter of time, it would slip from my mind/ In and out of my life, you would slip from my mind,” and the morose, tired chant, “More, you want more, you tell me/ More, only time can run me.”

“Used To Be” covers the waterfront of love gone stagnant, of hoping that initial passion can be rekindled, of drawing back the loved one, or expressing the fear that you can not. “Don’t forget the nights/ When it all felt right/ Are you not the same as you used to be?”  The action is stopped by an angelic voice echoing wistfully, “Coming home, any day now.”

Things don’t get much easier for the heart weary on “Lover of Mine” with its possible commentary on pondering greener pastures in relationships:

In a wide open field we know we can feel
Awake and unreal, off to nowhere
Off to nowhere…

The only thing you’ve got
You know you’re better off without it

Youngest fire, you decide
You decide what is right

Near yet so far, isn’t it?

You want something but you know it is not right, if you indulge you will attain nothing, be nowhere; Having the cake and not eating it too. The crux is felt.

The beautiful “10 Mile Stereo” brings the album to a crescendo and carries you on its wave: “They say we will go far but they don’t know how far we’ll go.”  “Real Love” is its denouement… My favorite track, the vocals amaze, the lyrics plea cryptically: “In the size of your eyes/ Is there a righteous prize?”

Again, in a turn of musical events, a different sound causes us to pause and take notice, punctuating a phrase of import, this time the simple yet searing “I met you.”

I have found this a worthwhile listen and even especially poignant to me artistically and relationally speaking.  The sounds are richly felt and the lyrics intriguing, the expressions of true artists. I have pictured the ocean’s varied effects:  deep blues, emerald green, choppy grey at an approaching storm, shiny silver and pink at the end of the day. I have imagined I was young.  I have felt my age.  Teen dream takes you somewhere, somewhere you’ve been and somewhere you may return.

– Holly Etchison, May 21, 2010