Beach House: Devotion

Beach House: DevotionOn Beach House’s self-titled debut, the Baltimore duo of Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand captured the melancholy air of summer’s fade into autumn. It was a beautiful, bittersweet record and a promising debut.

With the duo’s follow-up, Devotion, Beach House conjures feelings of a different time and place on a wide scale. The volume on Devotion is low, undistorted, and the tone is sedate. Shadows of The Velvet Underground and Mazzy Star loom over the eleven songs. There are traces of Dusty Springfield’s blue-eyed Memphis soul, boosting these dreamy melodies with joyful sweetness.

The album’s opener, “Wedding Bell,” has a slow hula rhythm and gently ascending and descending slide-guitar licks. While the overall aesthetic is similar to that of the group’s debut, its melody is more cheerful and its lazy shuffle is more carefree.

Even on Beach House’s most accessible songs, atmosphere is everything. The surf-inspired riffs on “Gila” have a deep, rich tone, underscored by an eerie, shuddering organ. Scally’s voice becomes a part of the landscape; she stretches the word “no” into countless syllables, each one bouncing to the plodding drum-machine beat.

Without altering their guitar, organ, and voice formula, Scally and Legrand sound fuller and warmer. A cascading song such as “Holy Dances” milks every bit of sonic fodder from the duo’s instruments, suggesting a band much larger in personnel.

In spite of the album’s inflation in production, Beach House has sacrificed nothing in intimacy. This album largely remains one of late-night waltzes and sweetly crooned dirges, yet it is also one for a quiet afternoon.

– Jeff Terich

Beach House:
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