Beach House: Lighter, brighter and lovelier romance

Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally (both above) make up the dream pop duo of Beach House.
Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally (both above) make up the dream pop duo of Beach House.PHOTO: SUB POP

Contrary to common wisdom, productivity can be a dirty word, especially when it comes to musicians.

Eyebrows arch when an artist or a band releases a slew of albums within a short period of time, but sometimes, well, sceptics could be dead wrong.

One remembers the two acclaimed records indie-rock darling Conor Oberst, also known as Bright Eyes, dropped in 2005: the indie-folk record I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning and the more electronically adventurous Digital Ash In A Digital Urn.

Then, there's the triple whammy by alt-country singer-songwriter Ryan Adams in the same year: Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Lights and 29.



    Beach House

    Sub Pop

    4/5 stars

Now, it's the turn of Beach House, the Baltimore, Maryland duo. In August, the dream pop duo had already unleashed Depression Cherry, which garnered favourable reviews and shows a return to simplicity.

Barely two months later, Thank You Lucky Stars appeared without much fanfare, like a meteor in the sky. The astronomical reference is a propos: This feels lighter, brighter, more ephemeral, and hence, even lovelier, because of these reasons.

Melancholy still shades Victoria Legrand's rich but unshowy purr, but it's enlivened by a sense of otherworldly wonder.

Despite its title, the track, Elegy To The Void, is not a dirge, but rather, an exhortation to stay and not leave. It begins like a theme to The Blade Runner, all motorik beats and swelling synths burping on the surface.

"To your sons and daughters/Bending at the altar," her Nico-esque croon intones, as if a priestess or a divine being sent from another dimension. "Don't you disappear in the mirror again and again/Again and again," she sings, as partner- in-crime Alex Scally peppers sonic stardust over the dark canvas.

On the flip side, Legrand's rock-in-velvet delivery can hide, well, a hard truth. Jealousy and alienation undercut the deceptive anti-ballad She's So Lovely as she calmly unfurls over softly lapping waves of ringing keys: "From the way that her eyes are shaped/And it's making me sick." Thank Your Lucky Stars, then, isn't as clear-cut as the album title suggests.

If Depression Cherry is a contemplation of loss, citing philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer's statement that "mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things", then Thank You is a validation of those possessions and asks you not to take them, or anyone, for granted.

The song All Your Yeahs rides on a synth loop, accented by softly twinkling keys, as the singer confesses: "And when they ask us/Are we happy inside/We're a rollercoaster/And yeah, we're a fire in the night."

Such is the bittersweet romance of Beach House. It's that rare marriage of ether and earthiness, of heart and outer space, which leaves one suspended, caught between dreaming and awakening.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2015, with the headline 'Lighter, brighter and lovelier romance'. Print Edition | Subscribe