Boomkat Product Review:
When Beach House's self-titled debut tumbled onto my desk a couple of years ago it was a much needed breath of salty sea-air in a tsunami of oily post-punk and frothy hipster electro.
Lo-fi without really meaning to be and lilting without resorting to whimsy, the duo of vocalist Victoria Legrand and axe/synth man Alex Scally came up with a sound which simultaneously brought to mind Antena and Nico, something which endeared them to the blogosphere (and to me) almost instantly. All eyes then are on their sophomore effort, and shockingly for a cult band in the post-millenial era they do what so many endeavour never to attempt, they stick to the same formula. Yes, instead of re-inventing themselves as a Chicago house-cum-African folk act, Beach House have perfected their hazy brand of pop music, again creating a tiny guide to the warmest alcove in the apartment. I think the secret to the band's unavoidable charm is that they're subtle in their advances; the melodies and buoyant harmonies creep up on you slowly and without warning - the echoing guitars of 'You Came to Me' only really making a mark once you've left the album far behind you, and the washed-out lyrics of 'Gila' appearing again maybe in a night of restless sleep. This was the very reason the duo's first album made such an impression on me and the reason it's stayed close to my heart for so long; they don't seem to be trying to impress anyone, rather their impressive nature grows slowly and almost organically. Through a wall of dense, synthetic sounds these two souls create a musical hovel distantly removed from our loathsome crop of fanciful pretenders, a sound which could just have easily surfaced in 1974 as 2008, and a sound which is not held back by its intentions. There are eleven tracks on 'Devotion', and in the same way as its near-perfect predecessor each one is an unfussy pop gem, listenable and hugely satisfying, lending itself to repeat listens effortlessly. We might have lost that 'shock of the new' now, but the band have settled into their shoes delightfully and 'Devotion' is assured, confident and glorious - don't believe me? Well head straight to 'Heart of Chambers', which for many will be this year's 'Apple Orchard', a treacle-thick gelatinous-pop gem which would, in a fairer world be loved and appreciated by the masses. Sadly it remains again our duty to show the band that there are people out there with a true heart and open ear, and for those of us who exhibit these symptoms, 'Devotion' seems the perfect twice-daily medicine. Frankly, essential.