In a decade flooded with synth-heavy indie rock acts on one hand, and majestic baroque pop collective on the other, the emphasis toward lo-fi music had fallen to the wayside. Yet, look closely, and the sub-genre still perseveres, albeit with much less of a following than its above mentioned counterparts. Over the past few years, however, the Baltimore duo Beach House has grown into one of the finest lo-fi groups around, keeping the lo-fi aesthetic alive within the indie-rock world.
Often compared to early 1990s atmospheric shoegaze acts such as Mazzy Star and Galaxie 500, Beach House has brought together the dream pop textures of their influences along with their own simple electronic percussive loops. In doing this, Beach House impeccably establishes an astonishing veracity to their music as they create melancholic warmth through the simplest of manners. The duo of Victoria Legrand (vocals, organ) and Alex Scally (guitar, keyboard) managed to craft a dreamy, ethereal world on over the course of Devotion that stands as both haunting and comfortable simultaneously.
Throughout the album, Scally paints the background with the combination of his precisely layered, darkly resonating keyboard, juxtaposed by his warm delicately placed riffs (“Gila,” “Heart of Chambers”). While he primarily creates this moody world, Victoria Legrand’s crooning steals the show on Devotion, as her mysteriously calm voice invites listeners in as she guides them throughout the album. Falling somewhere between the tones of Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and Beth Gibbons (Portishead), Legrand shines on tracks such as “Wedding Bell” and “All The Year,” in which her voice weaves in and out of Scally’s portrait, adding the final touch of perfection to their musical creation.
Devotion conveys the album’s title throughout the course of the album—whether through heartfelt displays of affection, desperate willingness to feel back, and a constant longing to have someone return her own dedication. Not only does the premise of this album reveal itself through lyrical notions, but also merges with the warm haziness and comfortable apprehension innate within Beach House’s musical aesthetic. Devotion may not be the best, or most impressive display of talent found on this list, but it remains one of the decade’s best albums due to its extraordinary ability in taking every aspects of the band’s work, and combining them into a final masterpiece far greater than any of the individual parts present.