top billing today was meant to go to the next instalment in ‘Had it. Lost It’. But this e-mail and offering has to take precedence. I’m sure I’m not the only one rejoicing:-
I got an email yesterday from the Badgers, over in Australia, it was keeping me up to date as to what they have been up to since they went off for a well deserved and extended holiday. They seem very happy, Tim painted a picture of the two of them walking hand in hand along golden beaches, eating freshly caught Mahi Mahi fish and then one section of the email made my socks roll up and down and shout ‘Golly’.
“So tomorrow, we are going on a tour, we are going around the state of Victoria and looking at ‘Big Things’. It’s a two day tour. Lorna is particularly looking forward to photographing ‘The Big Purse’ outside the Bourke Street Mall, whilst I’m excited about the Giant Koala about two hours outside of Melbourne, as far as I know there is no ‘Big Badger’ that we can find.”
Now, who wouldn’t want to take a two day tour of the State of Victoria to look and photograph ‘Big Things’ especially a Giant Koala, and having Googled Australia’s Big Things, the thing that made my socks roll up and down was the fact that on top of a Pub in the small township of Fish Creek, Victoria is a sculpture of a ‘Big Dead Fish’. Not just, a Big Fish you understand, but a Big Dead One. I mean a sculpture of a Big Live Fish would just be stupid. The concept is absurd.
The email went on. “I’ll also be photographing ‘The Giant Golf Ball’ and sending a picture of both me and Lorna standing by it to JC, talking of which, why haven’t you sent him the ICAs you were writing on our behalf”?
Erm….I’ve been busy making the world a safer place, as you well know Mr B. (JC adds…..he really has. He helped put a gang of very bad and dangerous people behind bars for an very long time) But, I’ve got a couple of hours spare, so if none of you mind….cast you mind back a few weeks or so….
I am driving The Badgers (the couple not the made up band of the early nineties) to Gatwick Airport. Their stuff is all loaded in the back of my car and we are chatting, laughing, and to be honest, if it was possible to click on a button to show a live definition of the phrase ‘Demob Happy’ it would show the two passengers in my car when you clicked on it. The music is playing away in the car, we’ve had The Cribs, SBTRKT, Beach Slang and so on, when Lorna suddenly says “How about we have two last 11th Song ICA’s just for nostalgia sakes, I mean after all this is sort of a stupid boys trip.” This is followed shortly by, “You can write them and send them in on our behalf”.
I look at Tim and he is grinning like a loon at me. This was so planned. They know that once the challenge is set I can’t refuse. I look at the ipod it’s on track 9, which is a track by Birmingham indie popstrels Peace – and I say “Go on then”. I take solace in the fact that this is at least my own iPod and very little can go wrong – although regular readers will recall an earlier Stupid Boys Trip which nearly resulted in Coldplay being the 11th track.
Track Ten is “Too Handsome to be Homeless” by Baby Bird and then Lorna nearly ruins it all by starting to talk about a particularly good ‘cycling shop’ in Honiton. Track Eleven fires up and Tim looks at me in wonder.
Its Beach House. A band that for the last year or so, Tim has been listening to pretty much every day. He loves their album ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ and was I kid you not, actually writing an ICA on them for JC. Straight up.
“Wow”. He says. “bloody brilliant”. I nod in agreement.
So for those in the dark, Beach House are a dream pop band from Baltimore consisting of Victoria Legrand on vocals and keyboards and Alex Scally on guitar and keyboards. They have released six albums (Beach House, Devotion, Teen Dream, Bloom, Depression Cherry, Thank You Lucky Stars), the last two were released in the same year. I have the last four of those albums plus a smattering of other tracks, so I’m basing this ICA on around 60 tracks.
I’ll start with if I may, Tim’s very own selection from ‘Thank You Lucky Stars’ which was the last proper studio album they released.
Elegy To The Void – taken from ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ (2015)
‘Thank Your…’ was released around three months after ‘Depression Cherry’ and all the songs on it have a darker edge than its predecessor. The songs are more political and far more bleak than anything they have recorded previously. The fact that this album was pretty much constantly on the Badgers stereo for the latter part of 2016 and most of 2017 is really no surprise to me.
‘Elegy To The Void’ is the albums stand out track. It has this organ that builds up in the song which makes it sound like a funeral and then the song offers up a series of wonderful images like “a black clock looming distant” and a “Freckle Faced young virgin” and then the guitars kick in and it’s sublime.
Norway taken from ‘Teen Dream’ (2010)
‘Teen Dream’ is marvellous, a triumph of a record from start to end, if you are new to Beach House, start there (I did) and then dive in to everything else. It is their most diverse and listenable record. Think Mazzy Star backed by Galaxie 500 and you are somewhere close I think.
‘Norway’ is my favourite track on this album (although all of it is great) and the reason why it’s my favourite track is soley due to the way that the whispery ‘Ah ah ah’ sends shivers down my spine, that and the fact that it is pure ear candy.
Wild taken from ‘Bloom’ (2012)
If ‘Teen Dream’ is considered to be the bands best album then follow up ‘Bloom’ is a very close runners up. This one sounds a lot like the Cocteau Twins in places, and at times there are bits of it that sound exactly like fireworks exploding in slow motion. Perfect, unhurried, gleaming around the edges and very pretty indeed.
‘Wild’ is probably Beach House’s best song, a wonderful look at teenage boredom, broken homes (“Our father won’t come home cause he is seeing double”) and the lovely things that see you break out of that hell (basically, boys with cars). Just brilliant.
Levitation taken from ‘Depression Cherry’ (2015)
Back at the top of this (lengthy) piece I said that Beach House were a Dream pop band. This is perhaps the best example of what that means – the whole song sounds like one long dazzling daydream. It starts with a vague promise from Victoria as she tells you there is “A place I want to Take You” and then you sit and wait for her to take you there, daydreaming yourself to far away places.
All Your Yeahs taken from ‘Thank Your…’(2015)
We’ll end Side one with another track from ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ which is amongst its talk of dead flowers and rollercoasters shows that Beach House can if they are pushed do songs that you can just about, dance to. Although the dancing would have to be ‘emotive’.
Space Song taken from ‘Depression Cherry’ (2015)
Side Two starts with the highlight from ‘Depression Cherry’ – ‘Space Song’ is utterly captivating and guys, if by the end of it you are not lost in Victoria’s voice, particularly the bit where she sings ‘Tender is the night for a broken heart…’then you are made of concrete. It’s everything you expect it to be romantic, sweeping, and as I said earlier, dazzling.
Baseball Diamond taken from ‘B Side and Rarities’ (2017)
Earlier this year, Beach House released an album of B Sides and lost tracks. Tucked away on here was ‘Baseball Diamond, a track which didn’t make the cut to ‘Depression Cherry’. I have no idea why because the vocals are heartbreaking, as she sings ‘I Want you to win’ you can sort of hear her voice crackle and with that makes this the best song about baseball ever. Yes. It. Is.
Used To Be taken from ‘B Sides and Rarities’ (2017)
Another track on this album is a new (old?) mix of the 2008 single ‘Used to Be’ which is just too good a song to leave off any Beach House compilation, this mix is quicker and chunkier than the album version (it was recorded some two years before that though – I’ve included the 2010 album version for good measure)
Myth taken from ‘Bloom’ (2012)
Yet more dreamy escapism, the very first word of this track is ‘Drifting…” which is whispered in shortly after a sequence of shimmering guitars and tinkering drums. What ‘Myth’ does and what Beach House do is they conjure up the trick that you are there on a road the sun setting on the horizon and then just before it completely disappears, they stop.
Days of Candy taken from ‘Depression Cherry’ (2015)
I think this is the only Beach House song to feature a Community College and contains a 24 part harmony and I like that. I also like the fact that’s it’s a hell of way to end an album and yes I should have included ‘Sparks’ somewhere. Sorry.