Baltimore's Beach House have been on the cusp of greatness since 2008's 'Devotion', but their third album sees them vault over that cusp with aplomb. A gorgeous and, yes, dreamy delight.
Before their third album was even released, Beach House were on the receiving end of some excited murmurings and sentences that ended in '…contenders' and '… of the year'. Usually, such gross overstatements are dismissed as mere hyperbole, but this time, the hype machine has it spot-on. The Baltimorean duo's last album 'Devotion' was the one that set them on the path to prominence, but it's 'Teen Dream' that will establish them as a band with intelligence and staying power.
The latter part of the album's title could be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that their music is often classed as 'dream-pop', which, although clichéd, is an accurate description nonetheless. Moreso than on their previous albums, however, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally seem to force new sounds from their intruments (keyboard and guitar, respectively), and that drive gives 'Teen Dream' a more focused feel in general.
These ten songs are all coated in the same sort of hazy, woozy hue, but crucially, they stand distinct from each other, too. From the foggy hymnal ambience of opener 'Zebra' to the tingle of 'Used to Be' (a song that lulls you in before furtively taking off in unexpected directions), 'Teen Dream' keeps its listener enthralled thoughout. Lead single 'Norway' has already been hailed for its breathy hypnotism, its melody slipping in and out of tune like a toy organ with failing batteries - but other highlights include the melody-packed beauty of 'Lover of Mine' and the steady build of '10 Mile Stereo'.
Beach House have always been a band that revel in subtlety. This time, however, they've somehow managed to craft an album that demands your concentration without resorting to extravagance. 'Teen Dream' is proof that when the small details are magnified to just the right levels, it makes for an understated, otherworldly treasure trove of sound.