Lords of La-La Land Refine Their Taste

Beach House

Teen Dream

Sub Pop

It’s high time Baltimore twosome Beach House earned some props for their lilting dream pop, and Teen Dream feels like their breakout LP. While Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s self-titled debut and 2008 followup Devotion rode a dependably mellow niche of murmuring melodies and quiet keys, their third album (and first with Sub Pop) is a switch like when TV went Technicolor.

Their first records’ ever-present coyness and mystique is traded in for ambition and overt balladry this time around, starting right away with the harmonizing “Zebra.” The track slowly gains momentum with plaintive finger-picked guitar, layering synths as Legrand’s smoky declarations ground the Baroque anthem. “Any way you run, you run before us/ Black and white horse, arching among us,” she croons, pulling each syllable from her lips like embedded thorns.

Then the duo shifts into “Silver Soul,” Beach House’s first late-night cruising cut with an accentuated, pop-heavy beat just begging to be remixed. This near-perfect first half of the album continues with the angelic shoegaze of “Norway,” the staccato choir coos and a slide guitar jangles, reaching a bliss that could infect at gigantic festivals and intimate halls.

The rest of Teen Dream blurs just like the opening trifecta, a series of singles that, at times, evokes Stereolab’s electro-lounge, Sally Shapiro’s minimal disco and oddly jaunty source material in the previously released cut, “Used to Be.”

That track’s cheesy bounce and theatric indulgence is definitely the LP’s low point — but then “Lover of Mine” regains its refined tastes in a Feist-like, nearly R&B jam with reverb and smooth beats galore.Beach House’s boy and girl, like friends Grizzly Bear, have honed absurdly tasteful indie styles to absolute effect, and while the results may not be musically groundbreaking, Teen Dream is too love-drunk on its own beauty to care.

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