WHEN IT COMES to Indie music, it can sometimes be difficult to find something worth your time. So many bands out there make lame, bland tripe that fills 13 spaces on a throwaway album you’ll find tucked away in the back of Poundland’s CD section in ten years. But sometimes you come across an Indie album that stirs something inside of you. It could be Franz Ferdinand’s self titled debut, The Rapture’s Echoes, Deerhunter’s Halycon Digest, or Beach House’s Teen Dream.
To be more specific, Teen Dream falls somewhere between Indie music and Dream Pop, a combination Beach House relish in, creating something dreamlike, but also catchy. It’s a formula Beach House only really perfected on this record; predecessor Devotion submerged itself in the Dream Pop side, while follow ups Bloom, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars just failed to conjure up the same feel. Take opener ‘Zebra’ as an example; the light guitar riffs are accompanied with hazy synths and Victoria Legrand’s piercing yet poetic vocals. It doesn’t start the album off with a band, more a gentle stir.
Follow up tracks ‘Silver Soul’ and ‘Norway’ are arguably the most ‘indie’ songs on the record, both exhibiting fantastic vocal hooks. Notably sampled by Kendrick Lamar on Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, ‘Silver Soul’ features some wonderfully chanted lyrics throughout the chorus. Where one would expect the crescendo to come in the climax of the song, Beach House replace with Alex Scally’s near deadpan vocal backing and muted drums, with Legrand’s vocal performance reaching into the depths of your soul. ‘Norway’ feels more upbeat, with Legrand’s manipulated vocals floating like an angel over the wonderfully performed guitar chords. The vocal riff speaks for itself, interweaving beautifully with the sublime music.
Much of the rest of the material on Teen Dream doesn’t have the same ‘single factor’ that these two tracks do. But that doesn’t particularly matter, as they instead wallow in some beefy Dream Pop ambience. ‘Walk in the Park’ combines simplistic drum machines, tremolo guitar and this many layered organ that reaches sunny heights and soul searching lows. Legrand’s vocals aren’t perfect, but feel real and flawed. Following this comes ‘Used To Be’ which is peppy, led with some pleasant piano and organic drum beat, something that seems a tad out of place for such a deep album, but still works well. The upbeat, nature of the songs continues through ‘Lover of Mine’ and ‘Better Times’, both of which see Legrand making some changes to her vocal performances, through layering and even a faster pace. The mood is played through in light synthersisers, harmonies and lazy guitar rhythms, while still retaining an underlying Dream Pop feel. The bridge of ‘Better Times’ see Legrand once again take the lead with her unique vocal performance.
When we get to ’10 Mile Stereo’, Beach House take a shift in a different direction. The organ based arpeggios and constant choral synth over the rapid drum beat is reminiscent of turn of the century Radiohead and even some stadium rock. As the drums become more thunderous, the vocals were nearly drowned out under the sheer weight of the music. When the track finishes the synths are left hanging in the air, leaving the track lingering, lost, but still powerful.
The final two tracks are the most emotional on the record. ‘Real Love’ almost entirely comprises of vocals and piano. It’s the most stripped back song on the album, and as a result exposes the passion and feeling the clearly goes into it. If the entire record had been this, it would have grown tiresome, but Beach House have saved the formula this one song, which really pays off. Closer ‘Take Care’ feels somewhat joyous after ‘Real Love’. Its catchy backing vocals and guitar and keys make it an uplifting finale. It feels like a celebration of life and music.
Beach House really stumbled upon something with this album. Teen Dream comprises of ten, excellently formed Dream Pop songs that can be uplifting, catchy, fantastic, passionate and just generally wonderful. Its quiet disposition doesn’t make it an album to necessarily scream about, but if you enjoy your music to be softly spoken, but with fire in its belly, this is for you.
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