Beach House – “Teen Dream” (Final Review)

Teen Dream is dreamful and colorful yet dense and gloomy. It is able to compact intimate human emotions and yet; it is be capable of transmitting them in a very general but abstract perspective. Love, deception, passion, gentleness, violence, sex and many other motifs are all mixed up between the lines and the music.

The first time you listen to the album, it’s so external; you can’t really grasp the core of it. You might like the patterned and uncomplicated rhythms that Alex Scally creates, along with the distinguishable and shifting voice of Victoria Legrand. You might find that it sounds like pop or indie or techno; you can relate it to any other type of music, but to me, it shouldn’t matter.

Music like this, which comes from the passion of making a profound and intense and creative work of art instead of being a piece of commercial beat, repeated over and over, full of hollowness and superficiality is what stills saves this world of going to hell.

When someone is really capable of connecting to a song or a book, or any other form of art; it’s because it leaves a prevailing impression in us. It might make us remember the past, or analyze the present; but at the end, that song stays with you… and every time you listen to it, that same feeling comes back.

Personally, Teen Dream works perfectly. It’s really well compressed. It tells you a story with you not even noticing it. When writing these series of posts, I wanted to choose more than a couple of songs just because most of them are so good.  Zebra, (once again) is a beautiful introduction. Silver Soul with its atmospheric sexuality is amazing. Walk in the Park with its awkward music video is great too. Used to Be is just memorable. And even though, I’ll skip Lover of Mine, I value its unexpected changes of tonality towards the end of the song. Better Times was the only song that I couldn’t digest completely; personally, I thought the sound didn’t combine too well with the lyrics, but the last couple of minutes are manageable.

10 Mile Stereo’s guitar tune reminded me a lot of a traditional Andean instrument called charango. (Not sure why, but here is sample of this type of music.) I think that Real Love is masterful. It was the most elaborated piece of the album (even if it doesn’t sound like it) and it was a song that I just couldn’t skip.  Take Care; as I said in my last posts, it was a perfect ending to Teen Dream.

This listening process let me with an excellent impression of Beach House. So if you happen to cross along this blog posts, I hope you share this same enthusiasm and appreciation for their music. It’s completely worth it.

My final rating is 4.5 out of 5.


Break-up song…

Musically, Take Care is the perfect ending to Beach House’s Teen Dream.

Momentum and expectation was built from the beginning of the album but at the end; this dark and deep song is the sad and melancholic realization that everything is over. The beauty of teen love disappears. The dream stops being a dream just to become a reality that nobody wanted to admit. The melody is soft and heartrending. That same keyboard, same voice and guitar that exploded in tuneful speeches of love is now gloomy. I can perfectly picture it as the background soundtrack of a breaking up scene or even as my own personalized romance-is-over song.

The lyrics, which in my opinion also have certain sexual connotation, seem to point us to the end of this lovely but fake trip:

“It’s no good unless it grows, feel this burning, love of mine
Deep inside the ever-spinning, tell me does it feel

It’s no good unless it’s real, hill sides burning
Wild-eyed turning ‘til we’re running from it”

The emotions and the gravitational pull towards each other it’s not real. It was good but it wasn’t real. (An argument can be made on how these lyrics convey a final act of sex and not love.)

However, the most powerful lines without a doubt are: “I’ll take care of you.” These words went straight to my heart. That’s why it’s inevitable not to repeat the chorus in the same infinite manner that the song ends.

To me, Legrand is not only saying goodbye to her lover; it seems almost as she is also saying to us [the listeners.] And at the end, she also will take care of us. (By making another album like this one maybe, maybe she will!)

I’ll give this song 5 out of 5 for its murky yet hopeful melody; for it’s powerful lyrics and for being the perfect ending to the album.

PS: By the way, this was also my favorite video from this album.  It was extremely simple but somehow, the image of the old lady singing this song was completely opposite to what I expected that I simply loved it for that.

Used to Be by Beach House…. [THE song]

So, I skipped a set of very enjoyable songs just to get to Used to Be. (As I said before, I believe the first five songs are perfect whole.) I chose this song because it was constantly hammering my head with its melody and haunting vocals. The parallel interaction between the keyboard and Victoria Legrand’s voice is unbelievably captivating to the point of becoming memorable. The accompanying simplistic drum beat and tambourine are delightful to the ear. To me, a rock music lover, accustomed to guitar riffs and solos and heavier tonalities, Beach House was somewhat out of my comfort zone; nevertheless, the beautiful simplicity of their music and the way it captivated is what amazes the most.

Through the album, the songs portray a variation of powerful emotions assembled in a narrative. It has its own flow. This musical river is constructed so we can bring back those long-kept memories of our first love. Zebra, for example, is about the birth of a relationship, one in which we believe that we know someone completely. Then, we have Silver Soul, a song that reminded me of the sexual magnetism of a recently in-love couple. With Norway and Walk in the Park, there is a feeling that nothing is quite right and lovely as before. Therefore, following a game of perception-deception; I think Used to Be is just the moment when the singer realizes that “his special one” is not what she thought it was. He has changed.

I think this idea is perfectly represented in the following verse:

“Now you know, is it just for show,
just a foolish game that you hide behind?
Don’t forget the nights when it all felt right,
are you not the same as you used to be?”

While it’s unbelievably hard not to sing along these words, the powerful message beneath them astonishes me. Haven’t we all felt that the person next to us is not really who he or she appeared to be? Haven’t we all thought how good a relationship seemed to be, but it really wasn’t?

Those are the type of questions and memories that this song evokes in me; and this is why it is my favorite song from Teen Dream.

Keeping that in mind, I would definitely rate this with 5 out of 5.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Zebra: More than stripes…

The first time I heard “Zebra” by Beach House, it reminded me of the film 127 Hours. For some reason, I thought I’ve heard the song in the film so I checked its soundtrack and found out the song wasn’t there. A little bit disappointed and somewhat confused, I wondered why my brain was connecting those two things together. It might be the similarity between the introductory drumbeat of “Zebra” and one of the songs in the soundtrack; however, at this time, I ‘m clueless.

While listening to the album I played “Zebra” so many times, that I couldn’t help but like it. There was a certain appeal in its simplified guitar and catchy chorus. I had no idea what the singer was singing about, but it didn’t matter. The lyrical softness of the background voices made the listening process soothing and relaxing but at the same time cheerful. I believe that nowadays, many mainstream artists lack the ability to cause this impression. Not many sing from the heart. I believe Beach House does. What they say doesn’t have to be totally understandable but it surely is innate.

For example, the lyrics: “anyway you run, you run before us / black and white horse / arching among us” are my favorite part of the song. I would constantly sing them out loud as if I knew what they meant, but to be honest I don’t know! However, this inability to literally understand what they mean is what makes me so attracted to the song.

Nevertheless, while trying to attach the song to my overall perception of the album; (the remembrance of teen love) the title of the song puzzled me. Why Zebra? The lyrics have multiple references to this animal such as wilderness and his notorious black and white patterns which could represent darkness/light or hidden/visible. I think the character of the song is represented through a zebra and the singer is the only one able to perceive him differently than other people. This person might leave different impressions to others, but at the end she is the only one who can see him just as he is. That’s what I think the whole song is about.

Being the introduction of the album, and the setter of the general mood of the same, I think Zebra definitely falls into place. I think Teen Dream is trying to remind us how teen love used to feel and Zebra only show us how we [humans] always tend to think that we know someone completely, especially when one is in-love.

I’ll rate this song not only for its musical attractiveness but also for how challenging it was for me to actually find a meaning to it. I began simply by liking Zebra and now, thanks to my own personal interpretation (which can be totally wrong) I just can say I love it!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Update: While writing this post, I played the song out loud and my boyfriend (who says he doesn’t like this type of music) asked me if it was part of a soundtrack. He said that he immediately related it with scenes where the main character finally decides to do something. He linked it with self- encouragement. His observation surprised me because I felt almost the same way the first time I heard the song. (Even though, I gave Zebra a very different meaning at the end.) I think it is one more reason to try to understand how people perceive music (or media) differently.

Teen Dream [For my ears only]

I’m a selfish person. Not with people but with knowledge. I love to know something before others so I can brag about it.  This applies especially to technology, films, and books and of course music. So, when I first listened to Beach House’s Teen Dream I knew I had to keep it secret.

Why? Because during these last weeks; I’ve felt such an emotional connection to the album that I just want Teen Dream to be one of my personal gems. However, in a possible regrettable move, I will express how I feel about this album… and why I think you should put it in a safe.

Does Teen Dream belong to the mainstream waves? – Absolutely not.

First, I believe that putting it in the radio makes it almost mandatory to impose a tag to it. Especially, when many stations are classified by the types of music they play. For example, Beach House is labeled as a dream-pop duo; but, I think is really hard to encapsulate their sound in a nine-letter word. They are beyond that. They have built their own musical universe full of melancholy and dark passion. You can’t classify that into indie or alternative. You can’t classify it at all.

Songs such as Zebra, Silver Soul, Norway, Walk in the Park and Used to Be construct such a beautiful whole that labeling it into a single genre, simply disenchants me.

Finally, in my own personal opinion, I believe that mainstream radio hurts the artist and his/her work… For example, before Adele won so many Grammy’s; I used to love her music. After her music started to be played on the radio; I would hear her songs being remixed to extremely awful levels. I wondered why an artist lets her work be treated this way. Is fame really that important?

I think that the pressure of record companies for profitable albums downgrades the quality of someone’s work by blocking his creativity. I don’t want that to happen to Beach House. (Even though, I doubt they’ll want to be in the spotlight too.)

It’s this underground scene, this appropriation feeling which makes me feel special. It’s a relationship between Beach House and me.

So, if you are part of the exclusive group of people who listen to Beach House, I advice you… keep it to yourself. Enjoy it as much as you can. Please your ears and nobody else’s. These bands don’t come around a lot.

“Teen Dream” By Beach House

For the last year or so, I’ve been trying to immerse myself in new music. My constant search of hidden treasures of the underground scene has led me to appreciate more the work of independent artists. I’m maintaining an open mind and embracing genres of music I never thought I would ever listened to.  This is the case of “Teen Dream” by Beach House, an album that in just a matter of weeks has earned my love and admiration.

My first impression was generally good. I loved the fresh beats; the absolutely gorgeous voice of Victoria Legrand and the simple but yet so powerful melodies of most of the tracks. The abstract tone of the lyrics makes it a little hard to encapsulate a definite meaning to their songs; however, I believe that the title of the whole album simply works as a hint. Throughout the listening process, the atmospheric feeling that I got was that of an absolute lighthearted and melancholic happiness; very similar to that gorgeous emotion of someone’s freshly in-love. Assuming that most of our best love memories happen in our teenage years, I get the feeling that the main objective of the album is to evoke those precious moments of our youth or simply remind us of how they used to feel.

“Teen Dream” captivated me to such a level , that I found myself not only playing it on repeat many times but even having one of the songs stuck in my head while I tried to sleep. I love when a song is capable to do that.  If I had to choose an immediate favorite one, it would be difficult. The first track: “Zebra” is beautiful and uncomplicated at the same time. (This could be said of the album cover as well.) Its instantaneous catchy combination of guitar and drums go together with the straightforward singing and the dreamy tonality of the background voices which makes this track so unbelievably upbeat that it became one of my favorite ones. However, “Silver Soul” was amazing too. Rhythmically undemanding, the track has such an amazing guitar tune and an astonishing vocal lyricism that I couldn’t stop thinking about the physical magnetism of a relationship. The following songs:  “Norway,” “Walk in the Park” and “Used to be” had the same effect. To me, the first five songs of the album are a delightful and compact whole. I’m sure I will be talking about them in next posts to come.

From the last part of the album, I choose “10 Mile Stereo” for its beautiful lyrics, “Real Love” for its striking instrumentation and “Take Care” for being a perfect ending to the album. This last song is not just a farewell but it also leaves you asking for more.  I found “Lover of Mine” and “Better Times” a little unfitting. Time would dictate if I can get to like them.

In overall, my first experience with Beach House was very pleasant to the ears and highly stimulating (emotionally speaking.)  Nevertheless, I’ll be researching a little bit more about the band and their lyrics so I can get a wider picture of what they are trying to express with their music. For now, I really recommend the album.

Rating 3 ½ out of 5