On a first encounter, a Beach House song, much like the boarded-up building from which it takes its name, can offer a lot to unpack. There is, above all, always an unforgettable, sometimes eerie melody, stretched out with a drowsy fluidity by singer and organist Victoria Legrand.
But there are also, just like at that actual beach house, any number of dark, dusty corners. Echoes abound, and everything sounds vaguely cobwebby. And Legrand's meaning seems always out of reach.
The lyrics are evocative without being specific; almost anyone can attach one to a memory of a past emotional experience. Because of this, a Beach House song is both by design impersonal and extremely personal. It's up to the listener to break it in, and there are increasingly many of those listeners these days who adore this band for that reason. A Beach House song is yours to inhabit, and that can either be thrilling, or, for some who need more immediate auditory gratification, frustrating.
As such, the band's got its work cut out for it on its current tour, opening for the relentlessly upbeat Vampire Weekend, and, as the shows are all-ages, its youngest audiences yet. We caught up with the musical backbone of the band, Alex Scally, for a phone chat in advance of the show.
Check back for the full feature in print before the show, but here are some sneak peeks of the Q&A, and a few Beach House MP3s to get you primed.
Crossfade: How are the younger audiences reacting to you guys?
Alex Scally: Um, it's only been three shows at this point. So it seems like some people have heard of us and like it, and are excited to see us. To other people, it probably appears really boring because we're not jumping around, and our style, the point of it is not to please any crowds. It kind of seems depressing in comparison to them [Vampire Weekend]. But I like that. I like that we may be making some people feel something and think about something other than how fun life is.
Basically all of your songs are slow to mid-tempo. Is that something that's on purpose, or does it just sort of come out that way when you're writing as Beach House?
You know, we don't really think about it at all. I think that's just how our minds work. I think, personally, that melodies are a lot more beautiful when they're slow. You can hear everything when something's slow. You can hear all the notes, you can hear everything blending together. It's not just a blitz of sound; everything is really meticulous. I don't know, I don't know how to explain it. It's just something we've always naturally done. We're never like, "Let's make this slow." It's just been what's always sounded good for us.
The first thing you said was that, you never meant for this band to be a crowd-pleasing band. But at the same, Teen Dream sold pretty well; it reached #43 on the Billboard charts --
Well, that's not what I mean by crowd-pleasing. By "crowd-pleasing," -- I'm not casting any judgment here -- but it's more like about making the audience happy without... It's like a trick. You can make the audience happy by being like, "Yoooo!" and getting out and clapping your hands in front of them, and then they all start clapping their hands. But you're not doing anything musically to make them happy, but you're just doing things that are crowd-pleasing. It's like complimenting someone without really feeling the compliment.
So, we want to please everyone. We want people to have an intense experience while they're watching us, but we don't want to do it cheaply or falsely; we want people to really feel it. We feel really lucky that this album is done as well, and we really hope people are having legitimate emotional experiences to it. And we want people to enjoy it a lot. So do you see the difference between "crowd-pleasing" and doing something that people actually feel?
Check back before the show for the full Q&A. In the meantime, enjoy the free MP3s below.
Beach House. With Vampire Weekend. 8 p.m. Wednesday, October 13. The Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $48.70; livenation.com