Beach House

Teen Dream

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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares

There wasn't much room for Beach House to improve on Devotion, so they improved the room in which they made Teen Dream. Recorded in a converted church with producer/engineer Chris Coady -- who has also worked with TV on the Radio and Blonde Redhead -- Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally's Sub Pop debut echoes with a dark lushness that's more like a beach mansion than a mere house. The slightly squalid sound quality of Beach House and Devotion had a cloistered charm, as if the band had to record those albums not just on the cheap, but in secret. On Teen Dream, however, the hugeness previously implied in Legrand's lyrics and luscious vocals is made real, like tuning in Beach House at their full frequency. The duo's mix of retro electronics and chiming guitars is still as dreamlike and distinctive as ever; if anything, the tinny taps and hisses of their drum machine are even more present in Teen Dream's pristine settings, making the contrast between them and the molten slide guitars and rippling keyboards on "Norway" even more vivid. Beach House's songwriting is also more focused, with Devotion highlights such as "You Came to Me" and "Heart of Chambers" serving as templates for the album's elegant longing. As Teen Dream's title implies, Scally and Legrand are wry and wise enough to know better about idealizing love, and romantic enough to still believe in it. "Zebra" positively swoons, while "Walk in the Park," with its graceful coda and chorus lament "In a matter of time/it will slip from my mind/In and out of my life/you would slip from my mind," makes losing sound beautiful, even if it's anything but a walk in the park. Despite the wintry sorrow that dominates songs like "Used to Be" and "Better Times," Beach House lets a little hope into the album with "10 Mile Stereo" and "Real Love." Beautiful and heartfelt, Teen Dream reaffirms that Legrand and Scally are among the best purveyors of languidly lovelorn songs since Mazzy Star.

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