Boomkat Product Review:
Finally available as a UK domestic release thanks to the lovely Bella Union label, we can safely say that after a year this album still has the same shocking effect on us, sending shivers down our spines after each and every play. It's one of the finest alternative pop records you could possibly find and if you haven't managed to get hold of it yet we suggest you grab it immediately! Beach House, a funny name for a band, or so I thought. It's the kind of band name that makes you put the cd to the bottom of your pile, the kind of name that doesn't really give you any connection with the music on the disc... well, until I'd listened to it that is. Within minutes of hearing the sunny salt-water drenched 1970s synth-laden pop on offer here I was convinced; Beach House, how utterly appropriate. Being British, I can't say I've ever been to or stayed in a Beach House, but I've watched Miami Vice, I can get what they're saying, and if it's sun, sea and sand you're after then the girl/boy pairing of singer Victoria Legrand and producer Alex Scally will take you on that childish summer holiday and then some. Those of you familiar with my reviews will know I have something of a fetish for girl/boy bands but Beach House pretty much get everything right. If you can picture what label-mate Casino vs. Japan (circa 'Go Hawaii') would sound like with Nico guesting on vocals then you might have some idea of the core Beach House sound. Ancient and poorly recorded analogue synthesizer melodies hop and skip with a playful lilt as Legrand's naïve vocals pore breathlessly. This is pop music as visualized through frosted glass, early electro recorded to reel-to-reel tape, simple songs constructed with the same care for 'sound' as Boards of Canada. I don't want to fool you into thinking this is merely an electronica album though, it is actually about as far from contemporary electronic music as you can go - there's no audio trickery or production wizardy, rather these two musicians spin classic pop in the same vein as Brian Wilson or the Beatles, they just get it all wrong at some point. I can imagine them jamming or writing, they finish a song which could potentially be a pop hit and then just before recording it all goes belly-up, a tape snaps, a synthesizer malfunctions and we're left with something that sounds skewed, degraded or just plain odd. Thankfully that's what sets Beach House apart from the rest, and although they might owe much to the shoegazers and electro-pop followers of yore, they sound totally out on their own. I could go into a track-by-track appraisal of the record but it would be pointless, you need to hear the album as one complete work, sink into it and be absorbed by its faded, hazy beauty. Essential purchase!