It’s likely that when you find this album in a record shop, or if a friend recommends it to you, that comparisons will be drawn to bands within the shoegaze genre – bands such as Cocteau Twins and Slowdive, or more recently Blonde Redhead and The Insect Guide. This is both an unfair_ and _just comparison: although Baltimore-based two-piece Beach House's self-titled debut is full of washes of off-white sound, it is no mere sonic experiment. It is purely a labour of love, in nearly every sense.
From the opener 'Saltwater', with Victoria Legrand’s lulls of_ "You couldn't lose me if you tried", to the wave-like slide guitar of _'Apple Orchard', there is an undercurrent of romance; it’s fragile at times, but always present. On the album’s zenith 'Auburn And Ivory', which finds the ghost of Nina Simone haunting Múm's near-decrepit lighthouse (not literally), it is more present than ever: "Come to me and I'll tell you what’s wrong, she said. I'll wait for you, I'll wait for once."
You imagine Victoria and co-conspirator Alex Scally laying on a beach, bathed in moonlight with the sound of warships in the distance, spending the last night of a lifetime together before a call-up separates them, perhaps forever. Or maybe you will imagine the day after, with Victoria waving Alex off, handkerchief in hand, as he fades in with his regiment and then into the distance. Or maybe even picture a teenage holiday romance of your own, who knows. Beach House is vague enough to offer questions without forcing answers, and with the album’s tempo barely above a love-struck heartbeat there is plenty of time for meditation and thought.
Beach House’s debut is not an album for our time; it is one that yearns for a simpler life, for an existence always tinted rose and viewed through eyes misted by joyous tears, something we all wish for but will never achieve. Yet for just over 40 minutes it seems within reach, such is the understated power and beauty of this collection.
8Jordan Dowling's Score