Local Wire

Beach House

Airily pretty, vicariously depressing, and just plain emotionally exhausting, the Velvet Underground & Nico tune "Sunday Morning" nailed comedown bummer rock with such precision that most later efforts in that direction have been left wanting. Some 30-plus years later, the Baltimore duo Beach House has recovered and lethargically twirled this particular pathos-blue baton with its eponymous debut. The album's nine songs trail by, half-asleep and bleeding from slashed wrists in a warm Calgon bath — anesthetized organs, keyboards, and harpsichords linking arms with tambourines, slide guitars, barely-there drumming, and lead vocalist Victoria Legrand's forlorn, rueful, or just plain miffed chanteuse laments. Every word is enunciated with slight difficulty, as though she's so spent that the very act of singing is a burden borne heroically. A sighing lyric like "You couldn't lose me if you tried/Cuz I'll be rolling to your side, baby" is imbued with ambiguity and dead weight, kept moving only by foaming, low-tide keys. Throughout Beach House, you get the impression that every sentiment is a fabrication, a private fairy tale spun out of necessity to pull through those despondent times when the world itself seems to be crumbling.
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Ray Cummings