album reviews

Beach House
Beach House
Carpark Records (2006)

There's really nothing stereotypically beachy about Baltimore duo Beach House; they're not exactly fun-in-the-sun party music for the bikini-clad crowd. Instead, instrumentalist Alex Scally's delicate melodies and Victoria Legrand's graceful coo channel relaxing summer daydreams with murmured tones and a soothing mood.

With a singing style that evokes a perpetual sigh, Legrand sounds like a cross between Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval and the ever-hypnotic Nico. On the duo's self-titled CD, Legrand opens the dreamy song "Apple Orchard" with the wistful line, "You only give me what you don't want no more," sounding simultaneously heartbroken and detached. That emotional haziness is matched by Scally, whose slide guitar and droning organ lines capture the reflective longing for times gone by.

"Beach House" isn't always a tapestry of trance-inducing drone. Swirling keyboards spin "Childhood" into a mesmerizing reverie, while an arpeggiated organ on "Auburn and Ivory" enhances Legrand's haunting melancholy. Perhaps encouraged by the more distinct instrumentation behind her, she sounds almost brazen with an uncharacteristic forcefulness ("Come to me and I'll tell you what's wrong") that still manages to keep within the album's captivatingly pensive ambience.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 24 November 2006, Page WE06
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