Monday, February 7, 2011

Beach House, Teen Dream.

Beach House dreams up some of the loveliest alt-pop music I have ever heard, and while I feel the term alt-pop is somewhat of an oxymoron, these days you can be alt-anything, and whether it's the correct term for Beach House or not, it's the best one I could think of. They are so dreamy that this album has an almost hypnotizing effect on my synapses, to the point where I am shocked that I don't drive off the road in a stupor when I'm listening to it on repeat in the car, as I have been ever since I took out Mumford & Sons a week ago, or, when I'm listening to it on the computer, that my head doesn't relax so much into my shoulders that I accidentally slump face first onto the keyboard.

Although both Kathy and I have been enamored with these folks for awhile now, we only JUST discovered, via YouTube, that the lead singer is a woman. This was the conversation we had before Kathy threw this discovery at me:
K: "Jill. What gender do you think the lead singer of Beach House is?"
J: "Oh. Wow. Uh. Hm." - realizes how hard it is to answer this question - "Uhm. A guy!"
K: "No."
J: - watches video of an attractive, hipster-y lady singing Norway - - brain explodes -
I mean listen, as a self-identifying queer person (if I had to choose a label, and my, are there many to choose from), I am all about effing all those gender norms in the A, so I don't want to be offensive or anything. It just seems like the voice that comes out of her body should not be coming out of her body, and strangely I can't stop thinking about it when I listen to it now. Again, this is no detriment to her at all, she clearly is a talented lady with a unique, amazing voice, it just changed my experience somehow. And clearly, change is uncomfortable. So from now on I am declaring that the voice of Beach House exists on its own, an androgynous, floating idea.

One of my favorites on this album is the second track, Silver Soul, which is the track on the non-video video above (although the audio on it isn't that great). There is just something about the way his/her voice rollercoasters in the chorus, swooping forward and then pulling back again all through the expanse of just one word--It is happening again. It is happening aga - ay - ay - ay - aaainnn--that completely sucks me in and holds me there.

Used To Be is another stellar one, starting timid and gentle with a piano following the vocal melody, and then after a minute or so in, a gentle hi-hat on the drums jazzes it up a bit, but overall the song maintains a tone of accepting sadness--the lyrics reluctant but realistic about a love that simply changed and moved on, which can be the hardest kind of fallout to accept sometimes.

The album--overall short but sweet, perfectly in both senses--ends just gloriously with Take Care, a song which for me now rivals The Luckiest in terms of absolute heart-wrenching-ness. The lyrics of The Luckiest are much more impressive, in my opinion, but the feel of Take Care, the entire song but the last three minutes in particular, wraps me up in a warm cocoon. All he/she is doing is repeating I'll take care of you over and over, but there is something so sincere about this notion. That's what these songs do--they somehow take love and make it not over-the-top cheesy but just earnestly real in a magical way I could probably never replicate. And believe me, I normally will wallow happily in just the over-the-top cheesy stuff, so when I hear or see something that in fact really captures it subtly and genuinely, my socks are pretty much blown off.

PS. Credit should be given to Stacy for giving Kathy a copy of this CD awhile ago, previous to which we had never heard of these people; she is clearly a much cooler person than we are. I used to mooch coolness off of Keegan and Jill D. and Meredith and Allie and the like in Boston, but when you live far away from the really cool kids, you have to mooch it wherever you can get it, so I've been grasping it in pieces from Stacy and a bunch of CDs burned for us by Ashley, and also by pretending in a small piece of my mind that I live in Brooklyn.



    we are so uncool.

  2. I had the same reaction when I found out Thao (from Thao and the Get Down, Stay Down) is a woman. MIND BLOWN. Completely. I never doubted the lead singer of Beach House (who I also really enjoy) was a woman, but I think that's because one of Joe's friends knew someone in Twin Sister, and they sound REALLY similar, and the lead singer is a tiny little woman.

    I feel like I'm starting to lose touch with music a little, which is sad. I need to make more of an effort to listen to new music!

  3. Miss Jill D., the fact that you mentioned a few bands in this reply whom I have never heard of is evidence that you are not out of touch with music. :) But I have felt the same way for a long time, so it's been exciting to hear some new stuff that I really like.

    And yeah, Kathy and I had a whole discussion after I wrote this about how we probably never would have thought the Beach House singer was a guy if there weren't lots of "in" bands with guy singers with similar high-pitched-for-a-guy voices right now. If that made any sense.