It’s summer, right? While everyone waits for mother nature to get her act together, beach pop can at least get us in the mood.
What’s beach pop? It used to be The Beach Boys, but the genre’s enjoying a mainstream resurgence. Beach pop has a touch of low-fi fuzzy sound, and combines singable lyrics with simple guitar hooks and soft drums. Beach pop is easy to listen to, it’s relaxing, and now hopefully it’ll also summon warm weather to the cold north.
There are two bands that stand out in the beach pop scene right now: Beach House and Best Coast. As if their names weren’t explanatory enough, both bands exemplify the easy going sounds of this west coast inspired music style.
Beach House just released their fourth album, Bloom, which sounds quite a bit like their 2010 album Teen Dream. The band, comprising guitarist Alex Scally and singer Victoria Legrand, composes dreamy tracks perfectly suited for afternoons spent stretched out in hammocks with cold cocktails in hand.
Beach House continues to draw on their signature sound, though the production quality in Bloom, when compared to their earliest albums, has definitely matured. Songs like “Lazuli” combine sparkling synths with Legrand’s low and steady tone, and “Irene” keeps it simple with just a couple of chords. What the band doesn’t do in terms of sound range and experimentalism, is made up for in the attention to detail paid to every sound produced on this album.
Like Beach House, Best Coast has embraced the upbeat side of beach pop, mixing in some country and folk influence. Best Coast’s new album, The Only Place is like a soundtrack for California promotional advertisements, particularly the title track. Compared to Beach House, Best Coast’s new album displays more range of sound and use of percussion.
For the album vocalist Bethany Cosentino and fellow musician Bobb Bruno teamed up with producer John Brion (Kanye West, Sean Lennon, Fiona Apple, Dido, Of Montreal), dropped some of the low-fi fuzz in favour of a crisper sound and hit home with an album that’s catchy and lovable at first listen. “Dreaming My Life Away” and “No One Like You” pay the best homage to the beach pop genre, while “How They Want Me to Be” is a relatable pop song about life’s everyday woes.
Beach House and Best Coast are two completely different bands, loosely tied to the summery sounds of beach pop. Both bands’ albums couldn’t have been released at a better time, when Canadians are waiting impatiently for the clouds to clear in favour of long-awaited summer sun. Whether that actually makes an appearance or not, both The Only Place and Bloom will transport you down south with their warm and fuzzy sound.