Two-piece indie band Beach House’s much anticipated follow-up to their 2006 self-titled debut brings a serene mix of reading Emily Dickinson poetry and having afternoon frolics through tall grass fields.
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Alex Scalley (guitar, keyboards) and Victoria Legrand (vocals, organ) have found the equilibrium to day-in/day-out realism and imaginative optimism. While not as cheerful and happy as other (maybe even most) dream pop bands, Beach House does offer the comfort only found in the tranquility of mother birds and their young, nestled far above the rest of the world.
The duo sounds unlike any other contemporary band. That might be because of the inclusion of the often undervalued organ, an instrument that more often than not airs religious and spiritual overtones. Legrand uses the organ’s ability to create expansive harmonies to instead explore grace and purity. While these two qualities may be associated with religion, Beach House is more into corporeal well-being than anything eternal.
The themes and the music fit so perfectly together that’s hard to imagine that only two people made something so complete, yet so deeply rooted in simplicity. It’s easy to get lost within the angelic harmony of Legrand’s vocals and organ tones, but Scalley’s guitar and keyboard melodies are the music’s true foundation. As a whole, the music envelopes you like bright sunlight, but it’s those seemingly steady beats (as in “Turtle Island” and “Holy Dances”) that remind you that the warmth is only temporary.
And that’s okay. Joy is an amazing feeling, whether it is for only several minutes or mere moments. You embrace it all from the bare honesty of “You Came To Me” (video here) to the hypnotic tempo of “All The Years” to passionate loyalty of “Gila” (download here) — which can be downright depressing (“Hoping for the last ship to arrive / I’ve been blessed with a kingdom, half-mine”) — yet listening to the quasi-anthem “Heart Of Chamber” leaves you feeling nothing short but captivated.
Throw in an affectionate cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Some Things Last A Long Time”, a Karen Carpenter semblance in “Wedding Bells”, and Devotion becomes something more peaceful than any volume of Pure Moods, but less rapturous than divine intervention.