CD REVIEW Beach House

Band : Beach House
Album title : Bloom
Label : Sub Pop Records – Bella Union – Cooperative Music
Distributor : V2 Benelux
Release date : 15/05/2012
Release : CD

This Dream Pop duo consisting of French-born Victoria Legrand (vocals & keyboards) and Alec Scally (guitar, bass, keyboards, occasional backing vocals) was founded in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2004. Signing to Carpark, the duo released its first two albums Beach House (2006) and Devotion (2008 – this album placing the band in the Billboard 200 on the #195 spot), before eventually signing to Sub Pop for the release of their third full-length, 2010's Teen Dream (of course, over the years several singles were culled from the albums, and in 2010 Sub Pop also released an  EP entitled Zebra as well as iTunes Session – Teen Dream saw notations at #43 in the US, and at #78 in the UK).

The “Dream Pop” tagging comes from the slow atmospheric rhythms the band creates, both musically and vocally. Legrand's vocal stylings have been likened to both Nico (The Velvet Underground, solo artist) and Kendra Smith (of '80s Psychedelic Rock act Opal). Stylistically, I guess I'm safe to say that Scally is influenced by The Smiths and The Cure, but in a general way the band says it's influenced by the likes of This Mortal Coil, The Zombies, Brian Wilson, Françoise Hardy, Neil Young, Big Star and Chris Bell (citation from the band's page on Wikipedia). The soft synths, organ, end other keyboard sounds (piano, for instance) laid on top make for a generally soothing atmospheric sound, which is neither depressive nor uplifting (it may be Dream Pop, but you'll find no nightmares of wet dreams here, you know). For Bloom, the sound was enhanced by viola player Joe Cueto, and drummer Daniel Franz (whom also added a few programmed parts).

So far, Bloom already peaked at #15 in the UK (well, somehow that was to be expected, because the British have always had a thing for dreamy stuff), but it also charted in Ireland (#10), Norway (#9!!!), Holland (#54), and even frellin' Belgium (#77), the charting of course aided by the fact that three singles were released prior to the album's release. For your acquaintance (?) with the band (or their new album) check the “video” section at the band's own (www.)beachhousebaltimore.com (the band's MySpace only sports music off the older releases). Although I càn appreciate the creative process behind this album, and don't mind having had to listen to it several times to get what the duo was on about, Bloom (and therefore also Beach House) is not really my thing, and while I wouldn't mind coming across other albums by the band in the second-hand store, I am not the one whom would pay the full price. Good thing for Beach House then, that there's quite a lot of people (and not only British citizens) who are indeed véry much into this kind of music!

83/100

Tony.