Record Review: Teen Dream by Beach House
Almost everything I have to say about the new Beach House album can be deduced from a discussion of the cover.
It’s their best yet; nice and washed out. Avoids the hippie séance vibe of Devotion. Also, not as strange as the photo of buried treasure (?) they used for their debut. Still, despite its not failing like their first two album covers did, the cover of Teen Dream still doesn’t add on to the music, like their cover for the “Used To Be” single did. The cover of that single, a slightly washed out photo of a motel with a pool, seemed to get to the depressive heart of their music more than anything they’d ever done before. Reminiscent of Hockey’s “A Bigger Splash.” Much more truthful than the white and tan lines that grace the cover of Teen Dream.
That’s really all I have to say about Teen Dream. It’s better than their first two by far, but it doesn’t reach the heights I thought they could have with the Used To Be single. They’ve redone that single’s titular a-side, adding actual rhythm and flourishes of color. This is a severe misstep. What was transcendent about Used To Be was the fact that it was so minimal and monochromatic, more than anything else they’d done prior to this. Even earlier tracks like Saltwater had more rhythm than the absurdly stripped down throb that powered Used To Be. It felt hollow in a way that reflected the disaffected lyrics; it was a dream pop song stripped of all artifice- Suicide covering Cocteau Twins, perhaps. With that song, Beach House achieved a purity of sound and vision that they have sadly muddled on Teen Dream. Lyrically, they’re the same as ever; sonically, they’ve added more and more and more. Which is a shame, because the songs are fantastic- Norway and Walk In The Park rank among their very best. With a less lush production, these songs might cut like a knife. Instead, they pleasantly drift along.