An introduction to Beach House

My friends and family are already well-aware of my obsession with the “dream pop” duo known as Beach House.

My sister introduced them to me back in 2013, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

What’s interesting about my love for Beach House however, is that I didn’t truly fall in love with them until I got to briefly see them perform live.

You see, they were playing at Coachella that year, and before the festival weekend, I was actively listening to artists I didn’t already know about.

Beach House was one of these artists, and they fit nicely into the schedule of artists I had already planned to go see.

So Coachella weekend came along, and I eventually found myself at the Outdoor Theater stage, patiently waiting in the dark amongst a pretty spread-out, comfortable crowd.

Once they came out and started playing, I was immediately entranced.

There was something so mysteriously beautiful about them, and maybe this was their intention.

Unfortunately, I had a lapse in judgment when I let my friends drag me away from the amazing experience (only 3 songs in) for the stage next door where the Yeah Yeah Yeahs would be playing.

During that whole YYY set, I longingly stared back at the stage where Beach House was performing, realizing that I had made a huge mistake.

It would be another 2 years before I had the opportunity to see them again live, but it was well worth the wait.

I’ve now seen them 4 times since that fateful night, and with each show, my obsession has only grown stronger and stronger.

The most recent show was at the breathtaking Red Rocks Amphitheater, opening for Fleet Foxes.

Rain was forecast for that night. And while it did eventually arrive, it waited until Beach House’s set was over. The stars definitely aligned that night.

So why the obsession?

When you first listen to Beach House you probably won’t get it.

The sound can be slow, melancholy, sleep-inducing, and dare-I-say…boring.

But this is only at the surface level, which is to say that the music Beach House make is more complex than one may initially perceive.

This may sound like a pretentious way of putting it, but let me try and back it up in a way that I can set aside my personal biases.

One reason I think Beach House makes complex music is that there is very little consensus amongst fans on what their best songs (and albums) are.

And sure, maybe this is true for just about every single artist out there, but with Beach House, it seems that the fans have an especially diverse appreciation for their music.

I know this because of the frequent threads that are started on BH’s subreddit, asking fans to list their favorite tracks across a single album or entire discography.

There is no overwhelming consensus in these threads, and there is seemingly never any track that gets singled out as the “worst”.

And maybe this speaks more to BH’s consistency than it does to their complexity, but it’s still pretty remarkable to me.

If there were consensus about anything when it comes to BH, it would probably be that the album a new fan should start their journey with is 2012’s Bloom.

This is the first BH album I was exposed to, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. If I had listened to one of their older albums first, I may not have ever become anything more than a casual fan.

This isn’t to say that the albums before Bloom are bad. In fact, 2010’s Teen Dream is arguably BH’s best record in their entire discography.

But BH music takes time to digest. Every album is a slow burner. And in my opinion, Bloom is the quickest to captivate the listener, given the more prominent production and pop aesthetics.

No matter which BH album you choose to start with, the true catalyst to appreciating their music is through their live performances.

When you see that BH is effectively only 2 people (3 when you include James Barone, their touring drummer), the love of their music reaches new heights.

How can a group of only 2-3 musicians produce such a full sound?

How can it be that many of BH’s live sessions are even better than their studio recordings (see ‘Holy Dances’ below)?

I mean, it’s not like BH is going to the studio and recording songs with the intention of outdoing them in a live setting.

Or maybe they are?

Maybe BH just wants to reward their fans with an experience that exceeds the recorded version. After all, isn’t this what any classic artist would do?

It could also simply be that they are talented enough to always improve upon their previous work.

After 7 albums, they seem to only be getting better and better with each release.

And yes, that means I do think their latest album, 7, is probably their best to-date. This is simply because every track is top-notch from start to finish.

Even Teen Dream and Bloom had some tracks that I still feel are more filler than anything.

With 7, this isn’t the case. It is BH’s most complete album.

There are both new sounds and old sounds, and just like a lot of BH music, a lot of the songs are easy to dismiss after only a couple of listens.

But once you move past this typical litmus test, you’ll likely be hooked.

And if you needed any more convincing at this point about why this band is so amazing, here’s a little bit of “social proof” of how they’ve influenced some of the biggest names in music…

The Weeknd

R&B sensation The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) sampled two BH tracks (Gila and Master of None) in Loft Music and The Party & The After Party respectively.

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar, one of the biggest names in hip-hop, sampled BH’s Silver Soul in his classic track, Money Trees. This is a cool mini documentary that talks about the making of this track:

Jay-Z & Beyonce

Game recognize game? This is Jay-Z and Beyonce in attendance at BH’s 2010 Coachella set:

So there you have it, an introduction to Beach House.

Enjoy the ride!

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