Sometimes, the stereotypes that make my journalistic life so much easier just don’t apply – and especially not to Beach House. I finally managed to get my hands on Teen Dream last week, and I’m very glad I did (and quite annoyed I didn’t get around to it sooner). The thing is, in listening to the album, this band have managed to challenge so many of the assumptions I automatically make when listening to music.
For a start, I can categorically state that this album is not better live. I was underwhelmed at Glastonbury, but with a good pair of headphones and a nice walk ahead, the record is a far more powerful, emotive prospect. Secondly, when these songs slip into one another without you realising, it isn’t a fault of generic background music – this whole album is an undulating soundscape, constantly shifting and is only improved by listening without too much attention to where one track begins and the last ends. Similarly, the cold, emotionless feel of electronic music simply doesn’t apply to the more synth-led tracks on this album. There’s such a warm feeling throughout, and such an organic songcraft at work that even the electronic sections feel as though they’re acoustic. Finally, and most importantly, the fluidity of the album doesn’t result in songs you can’t remember once they’re done. Melodies resonate in your head long after they’ve finished and the chorus of ‘Norway’ is frankly too good to forget.
Of course, part of every album’s appreciation is subjective, and it might well be down to the fact that as I listened to ‘Walk In The Park’, I walked into a park and the clouds parted behind me and lit up my path. Then again, maybe music truly is transcendent – I’d like to think so.