MusicMusic Features

Beach House

Touring 180 shows behind a single record is going to do a lot of things for any band, highlighting a delicate balance between the upsides (more fans, an impenetrable live show) and the drawbacks (a certain aversion to busses, vans, hotel rooms and the works). Perhaps the most progressive symptoms, and the ones that most struck Baltimore’s Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally—who together form dream-pop duo Beach House—are a sense of constant wonder concerning the next step and a mounting desire to create something altogether new.

“We were fantasizing about making a new record even while we were touring for Teen Dream,†says Legrand in reference to all those shows behind the duo’s 2010 album. “We’re really high-energy people. We don’t really stay too long in one place, and when you play that many shows, music becomes more physicalized inside of you. It can become automatic. After that long, you are definitely ready for creating a new world.â€

The duo’s new record, Bloom, is therefore not surprisingly a product of the road—an admittedly long road packed with new experiences and mountains of musical growth for both core members.

“You get a lot of pent-up energy when you play all those shows and those songs so many times,†says Legrand. “You understand them in a way that no one else ever will, and that’s where the attraction starts of imagining another place. That’s where the seeds of songs and bits and pieces of stuff find their way into your notebook.â€

When the Teen Dream tour ended, Legrand’s notebook was overflowing with dozens of snippets, ideas and song skeletons. It’s an artistic quagmire; while the antithesis of writer’s block, it can often be frustrating to sift through an unending pile of fragments in search of truly inspiring material.

“We’re older; we’re more experienced now,†says Legrand of the creative process. “Our artistry and our ability to get things across, or to chase an idea down and really make sure that what’s happening is what we want to happen, I think those skills keep sharpening.â€

Bloom is indeed a sharpened, logical step for Beach House. Recorded on 2-inch tape (as Teen Dream was) and again aided by producer/engineer Chris Coady, the end result is an atmospheric, lush soundscape that smartly expands on the band’s solidly established aesthetic.

“The differences [on Bloom] are things that we hope people will feel just by listening to the record,†says Legrand. “Each time you listen to it, I hope there’s something that you’ll discover that you didn’t discover before. That’s the beauty of art.â€

“A lot of it is subconscious, the way that you move toward one direction,†she continues. “You have all these experiences and, ultimately, you go where you feel compelled to go. We follow our instincts and impulses, and we’ve been doing that since the beginning. For us, it’s as much about a journey as we hope it is for the listener.â€

It’s fair to say that Beach House’s journey is at a critical juncture. The lofty success of Teen Dream could, after all, pin any artist under a crippling pressure to succeed—or exceed. Yet, fair as it may be, Legrand scoffs at the notion.

“I think you’re defined by the collection of your work. All of the things you make, that’s part of your identity,†she says. “It’s like children—why would you say one is more than the other, or one is your favorite? As an artist, I don’t want to be playing sides. I just want to create and continue to be inspired.â€

And, of course, start on the next 180 shows.


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