Beach House/Best Coast
Beach House: Bloom (Sub Pop)
Since Victoria Legrand is from France, figure the beach house belongs to Alex Scally's parents‑-a safe haven of keepsakes and used furniture, a temporary site that leaves a person free to laze and dream, kind of like youth in the old days. In 2010 the duo's Teen Dream clarified their tunes and expressed their personal confusion in bad poetry. But though this sounds similar at a distance, in fact it's quite distinct, cultivating a gauziness that intensifies their lo-fi while keeping the imagery plain if not always straightforward. Verbally, both albums play the dark card, only now Legrand's anxiety is existential and universal‑-"Wouldn't you like to know how far you've got to go," "The voices in the hall/Will carry on their talking." The simple, deliberate chords and anthemic repetitions that give the anxiety form would be damn pretty at a minimum if she was counting seashells. Countering the depressive undertow, that form is both a spiritual triumph and the aural equivalent of Jesus and Mary Chain frosting a birthday cake. A MINUS
Best Coast: The Only Place (Mexican Summer)
The chirpy opener about fun in the sun is a feint‑-the lyrics that follow are so depressive that the consistent cheer and conservatism of the tunes is like some perverse minimalist art move. Problem is, nothing in Beth Cosentino's self-inflicted boy problems and palpable longing for a childhood when she didn't have to deal with them suggests that she's got the guts for such a concept. Melodically and verbally, her clarity is a gift. But until she bucks up and tells that jerk to take a hike, it's not going to do her much good. Nobody loves a doormat. B PLUS
"I see myself at 8 years old
I'm on the couch but no one's home
My mom's not around, my dad's out of town,
'Cause I don't want to be anywhere else but home"
would match Iris DeMent's "No Time To Cry" or The Roche's "Too Tough Hide", if only she showed some determination to "bite down and swallow hard " like Iris did.
EDIT: I couldn't easily find birth dates of those named above to compare my "age and experience" claim so fired off the posting anyway. Mainly because it gave me an excuse to put those two songs on permanent repeat. So to be fair, based on further study, Cosentino is only 25 plus or minus, while Iris was 32 when My Life was released and The Roches were slightly older than that even when The Dove came out. So maybe the comparison is not a fair one. She's still got time.
"With a cold one in my hand/I'm gonna bite down and swallow hard " kills me every time though. Absolutely kills me.
Edgar, I had my own choice to make a couple years ago between seeing either Freedy Johnston or Van Morrison. Van was playing Astral Weeks in its entirety, and tickets cost over $100. Freedy was playing a small club for $12. I went to see Freedy. Afterwards he put his hands on my shoulders and said, "Thanks for coming to the show." Fairly certain that wouldn't have happened with Van.
The only comparison I can make with your choice is that Freedy is probably playing the smaller, less expensive place. He is very good, but I expect Loudon would be more entertaining.
I've tried to separate myself from the Christgau grading scale but, since I'm on his blog, what the hell?
Beach House: Bloom (Sub Pop) Good songs, if I'm too tired or lazy to shut it off. ("Lazuli," "The Hours") *
Based too on one listen, Im in love with the white-dotted record, feels like a summer breeeze!
And truely sorry for Ms Summer, I was really into the Wanderer album a couple of months ago.
She must be in a much better place (where "Ja's people can run free") now.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.