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When we meditated on Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s gorgeous sophomore album Devotion we had the following to say:

[Y]ou can’t fall back on Mazzy Star or Galaxie 500 references because they’ve pushed themselves into their own, unique solar system. Victoria’s voice and woozy after-hours organ tones are more assured, Alex has lost the beard but gained more inventive, atmospheric guitar lines. For just one instance, listen to “You Came To Me,” the way each part of it builds. We don’t think they could’ve wrote that song a year ago. Throughout Devotion, they’ve pushed their template in all the right directions. They haven’t changed … it’s more that they’ve deepened.

Here we are, not quite a year later, and they’ve gone even deeper. As a commenter noted when we posted “Norway,” this is one lush Teen Dream: They’ve upped the ante enough to be, basically, a different band than we first saw at the Cake Shop during CMJ ’06. They’ve made great use of time.

From start to finish Teen Dream floats with the hazy internal logic of its namesake. The pale yellow album art earns its stripes via opener “Zebra,” a song that opens it all up with a delicate guitar line before some cooing harmonies and then thumping percussion, spare organ. The arrangement is lovely, but it’s the assuredness in Legrand’s voice that pushes this thing elsewhere. Then again, so dose the weird gurgling chirps beneath more soulful harmonies and a slippery slow-mo distorted guitar at the beginning of “Silver Soul.” The soporific drums. It’s in the details. And there are tons. You’ve heard the aforementioned “Norway,” the track that follows “Silver Soul.” You might not have heard the rest yet (outside of sing-songing previous 7″ lullaby “Used To Be“), but much of it will be instantly familiar, but fathomless and mysterious at the same time.

The duo recorded the collection in a converted church called Dreamland in upstate New York with Chris Coady (TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Blonde Redhead). It unfurls with a naturalness that makes it sound like it was captured straight to a (a very high-quality) boombox. Nothing’s cluttered. Each sound has its space. Layers bring warmth to a simple drum machine. The steady pulse of an organ paired next to an icy tambourine. Quick guitar picking next to slow, steady percussion. It would be easy enough to rely on Legrand, but the backing tracks show just as much feeling.

We like all the tracks, but especially love the moment “10 Mile Stereo” takes off and drives into the horizon at the 1:30 mark. The slow, smeary pace of “Silver Soul.” The tender closing-time feel (complete with a moment of rattling background noises) of “Real Love.” Or when actual closer “Take Care” goes into a three minute fade-out, Victoria repeating that she’ll “take care of you / that’s true” enough times for even the most pessimistic to believe it. It’s a gorgeous, reassuring way to end the album — and something that could go on for another 10 minutes without getting boring. Instead, it just seems to up the high. Bands like Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective, and Grizzly Bear have all released ambitious records this year. Beach House come at this sort of complexity from a different angle. At first listen the songs feel like simple lullabies. There isn’t a shiny facade, really. It’s only after you take your time with it and let the songs sink in that you realize you’ll likely never see the bottom.

Teen Dream is out 1/26 via Sub Pop. For those of you into visuals, the album will be packaged with a DVD that features a video for each of the 11 tracks, all by a different director.

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Comments (39)
  1. this, Yeasayer and Midlake all before mid-February. What a start to 2010

  2. Daisy  |   Posted on Nov 20th, 2009 0

    I listened to this today and it made me excited for all the new music coming out in 2010. Then I remembered how early leaks of Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear jumped the shark and it felt like the verdict on 2009′s best was already in before the year even began. To make matters worse, I personally felt ’09 ended up as a whole being quite an underwhelming year. I’ll admit this is good but I’m not setting myself up for disappointment again in 2010 when it comes to whatever else gets released.

  3. J S  |   Posted on Nov 20th, 2009 0

    Help Me Vatican City…I am Your Loyal and Devoted Fellow Worshipper….

  4. pat  |   Posted on Nov 20th, 2009 0

    this is not on waffles. where can i find it.

  5. Great album. I love how every song starts out in a familiar way–I have a vague feeling that I’ve heard it somewhere–but it’s ends up in a place I totally didn’t see it going to.

  6. Ted Tedson  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2009 0

    This is a great album. One of the best I’ve heard in the past 4 or 5 months easily.

  7. The Lorax  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2009 0

    2010 is going to be a VERY good year for music!

  8. Owen  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2009 0

    so good. silver soul and take care my 2 favs

  9. STEREOGUM!! Why must you do this to us! Some of us have not had the opportunity to listen to any of these other songs and all we are left with is the gorgeous “Norway” teaser which only makes us want to listen to this even more! All the hype surrounding this album is making me mental! To top it off you hype it even more by releasing a premature-evaluation…

    I shall retreat to the woods, hunt me some deer and listen to nothing but Fleet Foxes & Grizzly Bear while I will patiently await for Teen Dream to bring me back to civilization.

  10. k brown  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2009 0

    am i the only one who thinks “norway” is a big dissapointment. i like my beach house ambient, ethereal, and for victoria to actually sound like a woman.

  11. Graze...Everywhere  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2009 0

    It does sound like solo Stevie…

  12. J Song  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2009 0

    We Manipulate Everything.

  13. ryan  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2009 0

    Norway is simply a Trojan Horse, gorgeous none-the-less, but still a misleading gift of the deeper beauty of the remainder of the album. Dear gawd, this is a masterpiece.

  14. Best of 2010? Get out your “<” signs.

    lol.

  15. che  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2009 0

    this year has totally sucked there hasnt been very good music and all the ones that everyone pegged as brilliant i only saw as ok namely AC and grizzly bear. And now this…I feel like i should like it but this whole organ driven chamber pop thing is just bad no matter who does it.

    • Marc  |   Posted on Nov 22nd, 2009 0

      Hey che I’m hear to support what you said. GB and AC were just alright, but everyone else thinks they’re more than that. I’ve always liked AC but MPP was far from my favorite album of theirs. I’m not saying I’m too cool for AC now that they’re huger than ever, but what attracted me to their music in the first place is that it was complex. MPP is a pop album. Pop gets boring after a few spins. Aside from those two, I hate Dirty Projectors since the vocals evoke epileptic seizures.

  16. As of right now I’m really liking “Norway”, “Used to Be” and “10 Mile Stereo”. This is also the first time that I’ve really liked Beach House.

  17. Lee  |   Posted on Nov 22nd, 2009 0

    Arthur & Yu do it better

  18. harvey  |   Posted on Nov 22nd, 2009 0

    This album is absolutely gorgeous through and through. Unbelievable songs.

  19. John Song  |   Posted on Nov 22nd, 2009 0

    Dad, thank you for believing in me.

  20. Jeremy in FL  |   Posted on Nov 22nd, 2009 0

    This album is amazing from start to finish. It almost puts you into a trance. Beach House’s best record so far IMO

  21. william  |   Posted on Nov 22nd, 2009 0

    I really am blown away by this album. the end of “silver soul” where the low chanting comes in is incredible. their live show is hazy and beautiful; hopefully this record will allow them to tour tons and we can all enjoy this goodness live.

  22. John Song  |   Posted on Nov 22nd, 2009 0

    Karl Rove.

  23. Alex  |   Posted on Nov 23rd, 2009 0

    Where do I get this album?!

  24. colemanhawkins  |   Posted on Nov 24th, 2009 0

    this year was bad for music? are you fucking kidding me? this was the year that music exploded, there were more albums released that blew my mind than I can even count. Here, ill give you the ones i can remember off the top of my head. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2, Hospice, MPP, Veckitamest, Bitte Orca, Album, Unmap, Eskimo Snow, Embryonic, The Ecstatic, Never Better, Actor, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, Travels With Myself and Others, Logos, Horehound, Noble Beast. And these were the cds I considered to be of life changing status, not even to mention all the other ones that we can merely place at pretty damn incredible.

  25. hellfied  |   Posted on Nov 27th, 2009 0

    listening to the album as i am typing this. have to agree with the general consensus. its a world-beating collection. i think they have made their bona fide masterpiece!

  26. i need a link to the torrent.. i googled the shit out of this album for the torrent.. and i can’t find it anywhere.
    link?

  27. mikeb  |   Posted on Dec 6th, 2009 0

    In the 3 or so weeks this album has been out, I have listened to it FAR FAR more than any album that has come out this year (dirty pro, anco, girls, xx, DD, real estate, phoenix, chillwave shit, toro y moi, logos, new slumberland, woodist/captured tracks stuff).

    This is great record. Go find it.

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