CD Review: My Teen Dream Would Include a Drummer With a Gut, and a Second Guitarist With a Goatee

Jason Nocito
Band: Beach House

Album: Teen Dream

Label: Sub Pop

Release Date: Today, Jan. 26

Rating (Skip, Stream, or Buy): Stream

Download: "Norway"

The problem with Beach House's Teen Dream is not the songwriting. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have the '60s pop bit down pat. They write catchy, anthemic melodies that could sell Tide to the Amish. Scully Legrand does a number of well-played turns with her Ben Birdwell-esque yowling, so much so that I'm surprised to not hear her hoarse when the album wraps up.

But the execution is thin. The 10 cuts on Teen Dream sound like shallow interpretations of what they could be. The beats are tight, but uninventive, the crashing cymbals sloppy and fumbling about. It's disappointing because we're dealing with some gems here that just aren't being fleshed out. And I can't help but think that a full band would do a world of good.

It's not clear what these songs gain from all the synthesizers other than convenience: Less money and phone calls, for sure. But they're not playing to their strengths (not the songs' nor the genre's). And when it's so clear that these songs could play at a higher level with a more generous instrumentation, the stymied, synthesized beats get frustrating in a hurry. Songs like "Zebra" are warm and comforting, but weighed down by the machines, it can feel cold and grating.

It's a shame.

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