Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2012-05-18


Beach House: Bloom (Sub Pop, 2012) 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-

Best Coast: The Only Place (Mexican Summer, 2012) 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+

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