Artist: Beach House
Label: Sub Pop
It doesn't take one long to realize how truly special Beach House's Teen Dream is. Be it in the scope of their career, as an ambassador to a new decade of music or as the result of 2009's status as the landmark year for indie rock, Teen Dream's appeal stretches far and wide. Blending styles, and capturing a theme like few have done recently, the album is a testament to where the band, as well the genre have come over the past few years. Pulsing with moving, heartfelt sounds, its adaptation of the group's signature dream pop to the post-Veckatimest and Merriweather Post Pavillion music scene is executed with impeccable, mesmerizing efficiency. How fitting almost one year to the day of MPP's official 2009 release.
Teen Dream is, for all intents and purposes, sonically stunning. Failing to exist simply in the dream pop realm as they may have chosen in the past, Beach House follows the lead of their once-existential brethren, and personal pals Grizzly Bear, in adapting a chamber pop vibe to carry the finished product. However, though no track will show to have the commercial viability that a "Two Weeks" might have had, it doesn't take away from what the collection accomplishes. Using the haunting choruses and steady melodies most associated with chamber pop, Beach House weaves a long and winding road through love, desire and the eventual coping with what is meant to be. As each song completes itself, the full picture also becomes clearer, a quality that only serves to enhance its ultimate ability to relate with listeners real emotions, past or present.
In segments, Teen Dream is divided three-fold. These three parts serve to create the dream, in all its honest, raw emotions, and the actions associated with them. The onset, featuring tracks like the lazy, tropical "Silver Soul" and first single "Norway" attempt to get the point across in the simplest musical means possible. Though providing some details toward the issue at hand, the songs are relaxed and easy-going enough to hide the underlying wants and desires harbored within. This is where the middle portion comes in. Where the earlier tracks were a bit more ethereal, these songs become much more accessible and straightforward. "Used To Be," "Lover Of Mine" and "Better Times" act as three slightly different approaches to the same problem-- a lost love. While the first acts as a lamenting, yet glowing requiem, the second expands upon these emotions with bursting emotional overtones. Originally coming off like 80s pop, its overall presentation explores the largest depths and heights of the album's emotional breadth. What's more, "Better Times" comes off as sympathetic pop, conveying its point effectively, yet still effectively, even with as little instrumental or vocal change as possible.
The final part of this raw, unmanufactured Teen Dream that is so effectively maintained throughout is the coping stage, which takes a very real and unabashedly honest front seat here, come the album's completion. "Real Love" plays with the theme unlike any other track, nervous and uneasy, but not terrified of the outcome it faces. It's reflective and lonely, while desperate in others. Its honesty is, at this point, undeniably youthful-- naive not by choice, but by default. From there, "Take Care" concludes all thought processes as the gradual progression to the end. It's both a figurative and literal awakening, and an acceptance of what has become of love in this case. The closure, just like the emotions which precede it here, are as real as they come.
With Teen Dream, Beach House arrives at center stage of a new decade of interesting, experimental indie music. There are few rules, besides making something which sounds original to a listening public increasingly immune to work which only comes off as "experimental" in theory, yet not in practice. With the example set forth by Grizzly Bear and others in 2009 in mind however, it appears that Beach House has adapted quickly, and put themselves on the map for similar, genre-bending success. After witnessing the stark beauty of this album only once, it's evident that there's just no other option. Beach House, your entry for best album of 2010 has been received.
[Previously on Animal Noises: New Beach House, "Norway"]