Dream pop duo Beach House proves the third time is truly the charm with their Sub Pop debut and third studio album, Teen Dream (out tomorrow!). Vanishing for a month with all their instruments and producer Chris Coady, Alex Scally and vocalist/keyboardist Victoria Legrand shut themselves away in a converted New York church called Dreamland. And, dream they did. The Baltimore-based twosome emerged from their hideaway with 10 breathtaking tracks, establishing once and for all their alternate universe of ambiance and wonder amidst the mass indie sea.
While Teen Dream remains true to Beach House’s untamed, romantic nature, there’s no denying the pair put their mega record label money to good use. Although their signature slide-guitar and gurgling organ still reign supreme, Scally and Legrand seem to have gained a crispness and confidence that only comes with time and beautiful recording equipment. Scally claims that Teen Dream is the first album he’s completely “happy with,” as each and every song perfectly translated from concept to finish product. Unlike some songs on their self-titled debut and 2008 album Devotion, the two stuck to their gut feelings when the time came to record, like with their new single, “Norway” (a recent Song of the Day podcast).
Scally and Legrand first recorded the whimsical “Norway” acoustically on a train and later proceeded to make it fully electric, while keeping the same chord progression. After realizing the song’s magical sensation was lost within electric darkness, the two sculpted the chords into what “Norway” sounds like today. The result is the same sacred effect of an acoustic composition, but with a profound ethereal atmosphere unique to digital instrumentation. “Silver Soul” also achieved equilibrium of organic and synthetic sound, and, in my opinion, could have been the album’s hit. The song opens with faint, chirping birds, until Legrand’s twangy voice becomes a drifting soul, gently gliding along sun-drenched infinity. Weary organ and lonesome-wandering guitar create a delicate balance between the yearning feeling for something new with the inner knowing that everything is a repeating cycle, “happening again” and again as Legrand chants.
“Walk in the Park” is the album’s upbeat breather. Steady 80’s synthed-organ brings an almost childish element to what seems to be a story about loss and pivotal change. Finally, Teen Dream lulls to an end with the fitting track “Take Care.” Scally’s shimmering guitar and Lengrand’s assuring lines “I’ll take care of you” bring to life what Beach House is all about: “creating a whole world.”
The lovely Beach House is currently touring Europe, but will be playing Seattle’s very own Neumo’s on April 12. Teen Dream is available in stores tomorrow, January 26.