CD: Beach House, Beach House

(Bella Union)

Aptly released just as intimations of autumn are beginning to appear, this debut by a Baltimore boy/girl duo really should be the soundtrack to a misty French film. (And, since singer Victoria Legrand is the niece of composer Michel, that's not an impossibility.)

The fuzzy, slow-motion songs are diverting enough in themselves, but would function even better in tandem with images of yellowed leaves drifting through the frosty air. Legrand intones her ambiguous lyrics in a dead-eyed drone that both chills and thrills - fans of Nico and Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval will know the sort of thing - and accompanies herself on a wheezing organ; Alex Scally brings up the rear with sighing, effects-laden guitar. It's all deeply atmospheric, and occasionally stirring: Auburn and Ivory's waltz-time tempo conjures up the moment in a horror film when it becomes obvious that the new babysitter isn't quite what she seems. Ultimately, though, it proves that atmosphere isn't enough to carry a whole album.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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