Beach House, Lawrence Arabia
Young bohemia are out in force tonight at the Speakeasy, out-numbering 2-to-1 plebs like me with a nicely laundered Bench t-shirt as cutting edge fashion. They're the type of beret-wearing contrarians who write free-association compositions in the afternoon. They're a better source of interest than support act Lawrence Arabia.
The bland but good-natured Kiwis win a quaintly warm reception, but the band is far easier to love than their music, which is a quirky composite of 4-part harmonies, rockin' American classicism, some ethnic elements and a tasty bit of trumpet. They play like they have nothing to prove and with a brotherly kinship, ultimately though it seems frivolous next to the theatre of high-romance conjured by Beach House's timeless, impossibily majestic love songs.
The daughter of Parisian Soprana Christiane Legrand, irrefutably Victoria Legrand, has the greatest voice in indie today. The timbre, the tone, the exquisitely bended vowels, its so powerful and true that it sounds synthetic, like the most beautiful police siren you ever heard. You can nothing but close your eyes and try your best to keep it together. It's easier to paraphrase the girl who retreated from the attack in tears twenty minutes in, telling her boyfriend. "Its too much, I can't deal with it. I'm shaking". If you reckon that's a bit Emo, it is. But why not come next time? You'll be that incoherently crazy, rambling about sunsets and the fragility of life to a disinterested doorman.
If Grizzly Bear have left their hearts in Vekatimest, Beach House are writing their tear-smudged diary entries from a place of perpetual youth, where in rainy summer towns literate kids like Scally and Legrand feel too many things all at the same time. The live set charms to an almost indecent degree. 'Good Times' is your Mum and Dad falling in love on a moonlit bandstand in Maine, and 'Gila' boasts a keening guitar line that keeps it firmly heaven bound. 'Lover Of Mine' - their "Michael Jackson song" - is a crisp respite from the smeared wooziness that defines their third album. But their creased folk-rock is never more divine than on 'Zebra', that provokes a rapturous response from the captivated audience.
Suffice to say they're an uncommonly glamorous trio (even their drummer looks like a GQ model). Legrand runs the show from her organ on centre-stage and she's a powerful presence, rather than the type to feign a wispy Laura Marling faï¿½ade. Intermittently they address the crowd with nuggets of cryptic advice, things like "I hope you find love, even if you don't ever tell anybody about it" and "we wish you good life and good love", and their greatest stab at self-parody - "thank you for being our first". It seems a lot less giggle-some, though, after they roll out closing gambit '10 Mile Stereo', which makes tender Gainsbergian love to our ear-holes with reverbed panache. All is dream, as they say. "Happy Valentine's Day" says Victoria.