IT'S AN EARLY spring day in Baltimore, the sun sinking a bit lower into the afternoon sky, with a particularly chilly wind sending goose bumps up the arms of Beach House's Victoria Legrand as she sits by an open window. Legrand makes it a point to note that while some might consider it too cold, she's basking in the weather, and this sets the tone for our conversation, punctuated by caffeinated outbursts and contemplative sighs as she winds down the roads of different towns and their various spaces for reflection.
It wasn't very long ago that Teen Dream, Beach House's third release and Sub Pop debut, was unveiled to the world after months of anticipatory press. Music blogs teemed with teaser tracks and videos, while impatient readers filled comment boxes with groans about the agony of waiting. But when that fair Tuesday in January finally arrived, listeners found themselves reckoning with a sonic force. And in the wake of what is arguably their most complete and moving artistic achievement to date, Legrand and bandmate Alex Scally are paddling through the praise and across the globe for an epic two-month tour of North America, following a month-long stint in Europe. But, regardless of whatever success Beach House has received thus far, there is no sign of resting.
"We don't consider ourselves this big band; we're just hyper kids and we always have to be doing something in order to be fulfilled. But fulfillment is fleeting. And we are always looking for ways to challenge ourselves as artists," Legrand says. These challenges include continuing with the songwriting process, directing music videos for their own songs (as Legrand did with "Silver Soul") and constructing "furry light tree jellyfish space aliens" to be hauled around for their live stage setup.
And while we talked about many places the duo had seen throughout their tour odyssey, the conversation kept veering back to Baltimore. "Alex and I are completely indebted to Baltimore. It's not distracting or diluted. It's just what it is and it allows you to make whatever you want. If something happens with it, great. If something doesn't, great. There's no urgency or pressure, it's just always there," says Legrand.
This inspiration, derived from the unobtrusive nature of this neglected city, is best observed in the beautifully refined haze that is Teen Dream. The record, though not completely dissimilar to previous releases, is a more tempered version of the familiar languid melodies and moaning harmonies, pulsating over a backdrop of whirring organ and slide guitar, while Legrand's gauzy voice bathes in the music. The songs are beyond engaging; "Silver Soul" will suck you under with its droning undertow and drag you to someplace that operates strictly to the plowing rhythm of the song. "Used to Be" builds and rollicks until it rests upon a single off-note, leaving your insides strangely plummeting. The entire record is sensual, stable, and evocative—in one word (whose very definition is subjective but whose intentions are good), perfect.
Ultimately, it seems and sounds as if Beach House has finally found their home in their art, and it's surprisingly portable. "It's not where you are, it's what you're doing and how excited you are about it," Legrand says. "My love is in making things. My relationship is with the universe."