Beach House – ‘Devotion’

Of course, the album called ‘Devotion’ that everyone is talking about at the moment is Jessie Ware’s debut, but having recently discussed her excellent output, I instead wanted to write about Beach House‘s second album from way back in 2008 for no reason other than I’ve been listening to it quite a lot recently.

When I showed my grandmother this album, she immediately asked if it had religious or spiritual songs on it (based on the track names and the candles on the front cover).  I told her it wasn’t – that they were pretty love songs – but the more I listen to it the less I’m convinced by my own assertion because there is something intangibly spiritual about this music; something that goes beyond the fact that the album is called ‘Devotion’ and she plays the forever church-associated organ.  Indeed, images of churches wouldn’t go amiss in describing the feel of this album – that sense of calming intricacy, dazzling ornamentation and indescribable holy warmth are things that ebb and flow throughout the album.

It is not a religious devotion that the album showcases though, but more a devotion of the soulful, romantic type – the delicate shuffle of opening track ‘Wedding Bell’ with its woozy promise of “oh, but your wish is my command”; the ocean of steel drums with vocals dancing over them like shimmering moonlight on the sea in ‘You Came To Me’.  This album is devastatingly beautiful, which is perhaps emphasised in the often darker turn of the lovelorn lyrics which express a yearning, and perhaps a knowledge that honeymoon-style love tends to end; in ‘All The Years’, Victoria Legrand’s stunningly evocative, lullaby vocals implore, “Let’s go on pretending that the light is never ending”.  ‘Heart of Chambers’ has this perfect guitar and bass melody that seems to hit you afresh like butterflies in the stomach, accompanying the intensity of the vocals and organs.

‘Holy Dances’ is the first Beach House song I ever heard, and it still has that encapsulating pretty, tranquil vibe it always did – but with every listen it becomes apparent that this is a sense present in the entirety of ‘Devotion’.  It’s a charming and fluid album which glitters like the candles on its front cover and is impossibly emotive and, essentially, completely lovely.

Buy ‘Devotion’ here.

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