There wasn't much room for Beach House to improve on Devotion, so instead, the duo improved the room in which they made Teen Dream. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally recorded their Sub Pop debut in a converted church with producer/engineer Chris Coady, who has also worked with TV on the Radio and Blonde Redhead. The same dark lushness echoes through this album as those bands' works, with a spaciousness that's more like a beach mansion than a mere house (and Teen Dream’s DVD of videos for each song adds to its lavishness). The slightly squalid sound quality of Beach House and Devotion had a unique 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 Beach House in 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. The songwriting is also more focused, using Devotion songs such as “You Came to Me” and “Heart of Chambers” as templates for the album's elegant longing. Like Teen Dream's title, these songs 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 Teen Dream and songs like “Used to Be” and “Better Times," in particular, Beach House lets a little hope into the album before it closes with “10 Mile Stereo” and “Real Love.” Though it's not as eclectic and whimsical as their earlier work, Teen Dream is some of their most beautiful music, and reaffirms that they're the among the best purveyors of languidly lovelorn songs since Mazzy Star.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2