Chris Donaghey
Reviews Editor
December 21, 2006
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Beach House Beach House
October 3, 2006
Carpark Records
Beach House Beach House
November 12, 2001
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Rock Music Reviews
Beach House
Beach House

We're getting into that time of year in the Midwest and throughout the rest of the country when it becomes a bit harder to wake up in the morning. The chill of late autumn, leaves turning and collapsing into the sullen ground, shopping malls on December weekends: these are things that make so many of us yearn for fun in the sun. How can people possibly get those feelings back? Well, outside of vacations, there are always those classic summertime albums and inevitable Beach Boys re-releases. But what about those of us who find the seasonal changes envigorating? Where are those timeless autumnal grooves? Well, we may have our answer. Beach House's eponymous debut, ironic as their name suggests, just may be the new soundtrack for the Polar Bear Club, a set of songs that aims for Antarctica rather than Aruba.

This Baltimore duo hits everyone initially with a severe dose of narcotic-infused shoegazing, simultaneously summoning the souls of Mazzy Star, Spiritualized, and Vespertine to slowly and methodically paddle through rivers of electronic tones. At first, the pace takes some getting used to for newcomers to the genre, but hard-fought patience is worth it mainly due to the voice of Victoria Legrand. Her dreamy vocals, often reminiscent of Nico, drift entrancingly through the atmosphere like smoke circles before coming back down to earth and into your ears. In songs like "Saltwater" and "Apple Orchard," what she's singing about does not nearly seem to matter as much as how she's singing it. As her childhood friend and bandmate Alex Scally pieces together laptop drones, echoing bells, and enough haze to cover all of London, Legrand is just laying on her back, watching the stars, crafting couplets about unrequited affection and bygone days before sending them off to dreamy galaxies. It creates a niche for itself as it goes along and it will be instantly recognizable. If you need an album to accompany you on a long winter's walk - especially one at night in the country - this is a no-brainer.

When the guitars and waves of sound return to Earth, the voyage that took just over half an hour will have seemed much longer. This is not necessarily a bad thing. For fans of bands mentioned in aforementioned comparisons, this will be a welcome meditative piece of music. Critics will speak to Beach House's derivitive nature in assuming styles and melodics similar to those of Cocteau Twins and likeminded bands and, to extents, this is completely true; this duo would not seem out of place headlining Narcolepstival 2007 with the twins, Mazzy Star, and a large makeshift waterfall. And there are times on this album that their pace becomes almost mechanic and lifeless in nature. Groovy, this is not. However, those points do not take away from the eerie luminescence of the album. As the December clouds part in the sky and you throw yourself headstrong into a snowdrift to create angelic indentations, look up at the moon while listening to Beach House and it will be instantly understood where this album belongs; not at the breakers, but wrapped up in scarves and blankets alongside the listener as both drift off carefree into hibernation.

Release date: October 3, 2006
Label: Carpark
Rating: 7.8 / 10

On the web: http://www.myspace.com/beachhousemusic
[RMR]