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First Impression: Beach House – Teen Dream

By ; November 17, 2009 at 1:02 AM 

Beach House

First Impressions gives you some insight into some of the most highly anticipated releases.

Zebra

Distinct, full-bodied guitar work opens Teen Dream. “Zebra” is delightful, evoking Grizzly Bear’s chamber-pop sound. It’s no wonder that Grizzly Bear frontman Edward Droste has been hyping this album up.


Silver Soul

“Silver Soul” entices you within the fog, with a glistening guitar riff that sparkles brightly enough to delude and confuse you into happiness. The verse guitar work isn’t anything to write home about, merely providing as a vessel for Legrand to deliver her beautiful, melodic words across. While “Silver Soul” doesn’t latch onto one specific hook, it does create a lasting impression that will force you to return for more.

Norway

“Norway” fades in from where “Silver Soul” left off, literally transitioning, with an organ connecting the two. Legrand’s vocals act as the predominant instrument within “Norway,” being sampled above a fast-picked, twinkled guitar riff. The introduction breaks for the verse, where we find a simple bass line working in association with some very trippy pitch-shifted and vibrato-ed guitar and organ, as Legrand moans, “Don’t you know it’s true.” “Norway” truly lends itself to the album’s title of Teen Dream as it is a splendorous daze of a pop song, one that encapsulates the nostalgia of adolescence.

Walk in the Park

Personal preference will be very critical to one’s impressions of this album. “Walk In The Park” doesn’t really differentiate itself from the first three tracks within Teen Dream, but this doesn’t necessarily negate the song entirely. It’s as immediate and lovable as “Silver Soul,” relying on what is becoming the formula for the album; introductions and choruses make use of guitar, synth, organ, and percussion, while the verses restrict themselves to synth, organ, and percussion, with the guitar hiding away, allowing room for Legrand to breathe. The song connotates its title perfectly, evoking imagery of walking through a park at dusk, with the tremolo-ed guitar in the chorus – “In a matter of days, it will slip through my mind” – creating a powerful sense of optimism. Musically, “Walk In The Park” draws slight allusions to calypso, with almost Vampire Weekend undertones hiding within. While this may deter some, it’s most definitely not a negative thing.


Used To Be

“Used To Be” is one of the most refreshing moments of Teen Dream, as the guitar and synth-reverbed precedent that has been established is broken by Legrand repeating a delightfully clean piano line. It’s kind of hard to ignore the Grizzly Bear comparisons, but “Used To Be” quickly defines its own identity, adopting typical Beach House conventions. The clean piano found within the introduction is soon layered with vibrato, creating an almost honky tonk-like sound. “Are you not the same as you used to be?” is the evident hook of this song, and it truly creates a lasting impression before the song quietly fades into silence.

Lover of Mine written by Brent Koepp

“Lover of Mine” starts off with an ’80s-influenced synth loop/guitar lick. It’s very reminiscent of the sound of New York-based indie pop outfit Chairlift. Once the song kicks in, it easily has one of the catchiest sounds on the album. The vocals are haunting, which are highlighted by having the synth fade out, leaving the vocals to themselves. As soon as the chorus hits, the loop comes back in, and it gives the song an explosive energy. With lyrics like “People people, to be satisfied. Your fear of a God, and a prayer for the night,” the song has some haunting qualities but is also really accessible. One of the oddest tracks on the album for sure.

Better Times written by Evan Kaloudis

“Better Times” is quite a sporadic track. Forming its foundations with an underlying repeating, jangling synth, Scally’s vocals quickly come in and are accompanied by a reverberated synth riff that finds itself recapitulated throughout the song along with its underlying companion. The song seems too loosely structured, however the bridge can be quite invigorating, thus giving you a reason to revisit it.

10 Mile Stereo

A 4/4 single beat bass drum opens “10 Mile Stereo,” being quickly partnered with a shining guitar riff that is only matched by Legrand’s vocals. Before you can catch your breath from “Used To Be,” an angelic string synth pad rises from beneath to steal your soul away. “10 Mile Stereo” is a great majestic moment, and it can only be attributed to the underlying synth pad and Victoria’s soaring vocals. The song builds and builds upon optimistic endeavours, with acoustic tom drums fighting in a skirmish against electronic percussion, growing hand-in-hand with crash cymbals reverberating in and out, until finally all that is left is the lone synth line and a dying drum beat.

Real Love

It would be very easy to dismiss “Real Love” as a ballad because, well, that’s what it is. It is perhaps easily the album’s weakest moment, with Victoria finding herself once more at the piano alone, recollecting about a love perhaps once lost. It’s a bit difficult to distinguish what it is that Legrand is actually saying at times (may be attributed to the excess reverb or low bit-rate of our rip), but the chorus finds our protagonist sighing “I t you” before introducing typical Beach House elements of a reverberated synth line residing in the shadows beneath the piano, until it develops with bass drum and tambourine, establishing the necessary percussion for the song’s conclusion. It meanders for a while, and it’s very easy for “Real Love” to lose your attention, but by now you’ve heard all that the album needs for you to hear.

Take Care

“Take Care” continues from where “Walk In The Park” left off. A simplistic synth line wavers up and down, with electronic bass and toms quietly enforcing the song’s verse as Legrand hums overhead. The chorus enforces the percussion with a real acoustic kit before Victoria sings ’70s-like “bops” in unison with a piano. It’s while listening to “Take Care” that you start to be grateful that it’s the last track on Teen Dream, as the album begins to dwindle and twiddle its thumbs. While “Take Care” isn’t a bad song, at 5:48 – being the longest song of the album – it certainly comes close to overstaying its welcome, not entirely possessing the charm of earlier tracks such as “Zebra” or “Silver Soul.” Perhaps if “Real Love” were omitted, the impact of “Take Care” would have been a lot more prominant. However, “Take Care” is still an extremely fitting closure, being the ultimate embodiment of Teen Dream‘s overall sound.

Teen Dream is due out on January 26th via Bella Union/Sub Pop.





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