With Devotion, Beach House prove once again that they're one of the more strangely named bands around. Their music is so lonely, so haunting, that the only beach house it evokes is a deserted one, stranded on a winter night so desolate that summer isn't even a memory. Then again, that atmosphere is precisely what made Beach House's self-titled debut so striking, and Devotion is even more so, since Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally bring more focus, depth, and warmth to their unmistakable sound. Tracks like "Gila" and "Turtle Island" show that all the pair need to build a mood are their vintage-sounding drum machines, keyboards, and layers of Legrand's womanly, velvety voice, but Beach House spend just as much time expanding their horizons as they do delivering their definitive sound. Devotion begins with "Wedding Bells," which, with its fuzzed-out guitar, keyboard filigrees, harpsichords, and pedal steel, is one of the duo's most elaborate songs yet. It's also one of Beach House's most immediate, fully formed songs, something that this album has far more of than the band's debut. "You Came to Me" is a stunner, melding dark chamber pop ambience with lyrics that feel like they came from a surreal '70s AM radio hit. "Heart of Chambers" is downright soulful, with Legrand's keening voice and swelling organs giving it a truly devotional cast. Not surprisingly, given the album's title, Devotion's songs deal with love and loyalty, or the lack thereof: "Some Things Last (A Long Time)" is an aptly torchy, country-tinged ballad about carrying a torch for someone; "Astronaut" pines for a crush to be requited, filtering the innocence and drama of girl group pop through the band's gauzy approach. "Home Again" is just as sweet -- but not nearly as reassuring -- as its title suggests, setting lyrics like "Something about the way a heart is nailed above a hand" to finger snaps and a melody with a wintry sparkle. Like Beach House, Devotion sounds like it was made for, and possibly in, the dead of night. This time, though, Beach House's dark moods have more shades, and even a little bit of light, making them all the more compelling.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares