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Monday, February 04, 2008

BEACH HOUSE - "Devotion" 89%

Beach House are the Baltimore girl/boy duo of vocalist/organist Victoria Legrand and guitarist/keyboardist Alex Scally. With their 2006 eponymous debut, the duo found themselves warmly embraced by bloggers, drawing critical comparisons to Mazzy Star, Slowdive and Galaxie 500. Now, with their follow-up LP Devotion, Beach House take their concept one step further, offering eleven new tracks that display a more assured confidence and an overall fuller sound.

Scally and Legrand are devout collectors of organs. In fact, on Devotion they used six different organs alone. The instrument has a unique and perfect relation to Legrand’s voice, which together can create a beauty so rich your heart nearly melts. The duo also have a deep affection for vinyl, recommending that you seek out the double-LP edition of the album for the best experience of the new release.

Devotion opens with the wistful “Wedding Bell”, which uses a harpsichord and Scally’s slide guitar to dance alongside Legrand’s blue-tone sing-song voice. By Beach House standards, this track is about as fun as they get. The sepia, slow-motion of “You Came To Me” follows, where it becomes clear that Legrand’s hushed and dreamy vocal style is nuanced and rich with character in a way that recalls Georgia Hubley and, at times, Nico. “Gila” is the most reminiscent track of the debut album, following a drum loop with the faithful organ, as Legrand’s echoed vocals meander along with the mystical charm of a skilled snake, before letting loose a restrained desperation by track’s end.

What’s most impressive about the work here, is the deeply layered variation of influence, which in very subtle ways utilizes such novelty sounds as 60’s Motown, 50’s country, and 90’s noise rock, only to create eerily warm, late night soothing lullabies.

Devotion also features a short and sweet cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Some Things Last A Long Time”, another sepia-drenched dreamlike moment that almost serves as an interlude between two deeper tracks. Among the eleven tracks, “Turtle Island” and “D.A.R.L.I.N.G” are highlights, songs wherein the style that is Beach House hits a crucial height. These tracks walk a beautiful fine line between dazed melancholy and minimalist pop.

All in all, the album as a whole is best experienced after multiple listens, when the deep layers of instrumentation and hidden melodies can finally seep through. Devotion is released on February 26 via Carpark Records.

-Originally published at

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