Review: Beach House’s “Teen Dream”

They’re getting plenty of buzz, but is their album worth the praise?

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Conrad Schoenleber

Beach House Album: âÄúTeen DreamâÄù Label:Sub Pop Occasionally the buzz surrounding a band starts becoming more important than the music itself, and thatâÄôs exactly the problem with Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach HouseâÄôs newest album âÄúTeen Dream.âÄù Receiving rave reviews from Pitchfork and almost a daily mention on the biggest indie blogs (like Gorilla vs. Bear); âÄúTeen DreamâÄù fails to deliver. The album is the third endeavor of Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, who formed Beach House in 2004. While âÄúTeen DreamâÄù is carefully and beautifully constructed, the tracks lack variety and energy, which can occasionally feel monotonous. At times, the duo seems to be doing more woolgathering than groundbreaking. The album starts out well enough with the shimmering single âÄúZebra.âÄù The tempo manages to lilt between happiness and depression, with LegrandâÄôs voice floating lazily above the ScallyâÄôs background guitar. LegrandâÄôs husky, echo-drenched harmonies are engaging with a daydreaming quality that makes them feel sincere. Things continue smoothly as the key-bending guitar in âÄúNorwayâÄù adds an unexpected change of pace. The breathy chants invoke the soundtracks of lost CW shows of yore, and LegrandâÄôs overlying synth fleshes the track out. Before things mellow out too much, the album peaks with âÄúWalk in the ParkâÄù, an ethereal journey that could soundtrack any daydream with its metallic tinkling and organic lushness. LegrandâÄôs oddly androgynous voice summons images of stone trolls and fjords, betraying her Norwegian roots. As it fades out, it leaves a feeling of contentment. While those are definitely single-worthy tracks, the remaining songs fail to break from the albumâÄôs already established patterns and the formula begins to lose its charm. Songs like âÄúBetter TimesâÄù and âÄú10 Mile StereoâÄù seem derivative and unnecessary. ItâÄôs always a bad sign when an album stops being interesting halfway through. The problem with being the hottest indie band of the moment is that style often becomes more important than substance. While Beach House is definitely not lacking the former, âÄúTeen DreamâÄù quickly tires, leaving the listener bored and ready to get back to reality. While Beach House will most likely gain popularity and praise for âÄúTeen DreamâÄù, it wouldnâÄôt be at all surprising if the sentiment of many listeners towards the album mirrored the lyrics in âÄúA Walk in the ParkâÄù – âÄúIn a matter of time, it would slip from my mindâÄù. 3/5