Teen Dream is a delight from start to finish. It’s one of those albums that is never inappropriate, it’s atmospheric enough to accompany a walk, chilled enough to listen to in bed, stimulating enough to start a conversation but not too overpowering to fizzle it out. It sounds as good on Sunday evening as it does on Monday morning, and despite its sunny tendencies it has managed to soundtrack winter more than adequately. It is one of those frustratingly good albums you search high and low for a fault but one just isn’t forthcoming.
Beach House, a duo from Baltimore, had released two albums previous to this to little fanfare outside of a dedicated group of fans and your most enthusiastic muso and pitchfork-head. In fact, before writing this review I was unaware that this wasn’t their debut. This looks set to change imminently.
Their brand of music is very aptly labelled as ‘Dream-Pop’, which is exactly how it sounds – Victoria Legrand’s voice is truly haunting, and completely dominates proceedings on tracks such as‘Real Love’, staying in the memory long after the track has reached its conclusion. Yet it is equally effective when operating in far lower tones, demonstrating her versatility. The highlight is on the lead single, ‘Norway‘, probably the best example of the duo’s ability to perfectly exploit her voice’s versatility to create ethereal, dreamy music. ‘Walk in the Park’ continues this theme, though as ‘Real Love’ demonstrates, they’re equally at home making far less uplifting songs.
Had I written this review two months ago, upon its release, or even three months ago, upon its leak, it would be nowhere near as favourable. However, this only serves to highlight the depth that this album possesses; even after months of solid listening it remains as encapsulating and immersive as it did upon its first listen, you notice elements of songs that you had perhaps missed first time round. As in 2009, 2010 has begun with the standard being set by a masterpiece from Baltimore.