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- Beach House »
The Night and Day is a strange venue; part bar, part café, dark, with an improbably high ceiling and an unfortunately placed pillar. Strangely amorphous, the place seems to shape itself around whoever’s playing; tonight, barely half full, it has a loungey, tired atmosphere; for the bands the bright stage lighting absorbs the audience into a shadowy, androgynous anonymity – at one point singer Victoria Legrand, assessing the lethargic passivity of the crowd, shielding her eyes from the spotlight, asks if we’re all OK. Outside the rain falls; inside it could be any night at the Night and Day, Manchester or anywhere. Which is a terrible shame really, considering how lovely Beach House’s music is - all lazy sunset melodies and drawling slide guitars.
The Baltimore duo’s (Legrand on keyboard and vocals, Alex Scally on guitar) brand of atmospheric indie has a long, distinguished heritage that stretches back through Mazzy Star, Yo La Tengo and Broadcast - all the more credit to the band, then, that their music can be so placeable and yet so distinctive at the same time. Legrand’s vocals are languid and deep, almost hypnotic; her voice occasionally stoops an octave, the slide guitar swooping to mimic it in parallel flight. As easy as it is to pick out obvious influences, there’s something wonderfully gothic about Beach House’s music that sets them aside; the songs drenched in honey-thick layers of half-asleep nostalgia, the accompanying electronic beats never rousing themselves to anything above a slow, steady pulse. Most of the material the group play tonight is culled from their lush eponymous debut record, the band both immaculately tight and suitably laid-back. Tracks like ‘Apple Orchard’ and ‘Lovelier Girl’ come across wonderfully; sad, melancholic, strangely hopeful.
The music craves to be heard in some intimate surrounding, the band close to the audience, the walls and ceiling hugging the crowd. For all that then, the venue and its sparse population turn what could have been a great performance in to a good one; still, it’s encouraging to note that Beach House do have the possibility of a great performance within them. Their cover of Daniel Johnston’s ‘Some Things Last A Long Time’ brings out the dark and the beautiful in Johnston’s songwriting, a balance present in the all the best ‘alt’ indie-rock music, be it Galaxie 500 or Johnston. I leave convinced both that the task of putting on these groups should be left to local promoters who know best how to pull in a good crowd, and that Beach House’s next record is going to be a beaut.
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