"This is kind of like a birthday party," said Victoria Legrend, one half the Baltimore duo Beach House, before a sold-out crowd at the Bell House in Brooklyn Tuesday night (Jan. 26). "A fascist birthday party."
It was, nonetheless, a reason for vocalist/keyboardist Legrend and guitarist Alex Scally to celebrate. Yesterday marked the release of Beach House's third album and first for Sub Pop: "Teen Dream," a career-best collection of songs elevating Beach House from lo-fi bedroom act to what might resemble a dream-pop powerhouse.
Compared to Beach House's past two efforts, 2006's "Beach House" and 2008's "Devotion," "Teen Dream" swells with more percussive strength and definite song structure, making it the group's most accessible work to date. In a live setting, that translated into a more engaging, all-encompassing set -- one that not only transfixed the audience with the band's dreamlike sound but also moved in unexpected directions, be it through the melodic hook of "Walk in the Park," the keyboard-led longing of "Used to Be" or sheer gorgeousness and force of encore-closer "10 Mile Stereo."
The delicate interplay between Legrend, Scally and the added live drummer was pronounced in the quaint, 350-capacity venue, allowing Beach House to flesh out the subtlety of its arrangements for a room hanging on to every squiggling guitar line and breathy "oh-oh" harmony. Legrend's deep, Kate Bush-style vocals had a powerful, hypnotizing effect, with songs like "Norway" and "Silver Soul" showcasing the diversity of her range.
The set played heavily on songs from the new effort, but songs like "Heart of Chambers" and the slow seduction of "Gila" from "Devotion" pleased attentive concertgoers yearning for the familiarity of those well-worn songs. That familiarity only to deepen with the release of "Teen Dream," which feels nostalgic, lonesome and beautiful all at once. Last night, Beach House allowed us into its intimate world, and it's a party we won't soon be forgetting.