Beach House
Cargo, London
2nd December 2008

Roughly a year since their last headline show at the Water Rat in Kings Cross, Baltimore’s Beach House have doubled their output and returned to London on the tail end of a European tour, promoting Devotion, their second album released earlier in the year. Having played support on recent tours by Cat Power and Fleet Foxes, whose very own sudden ascendance stole the thunder from Beach House’s steady rise, it was a welcome chance to revisit this band once again.

On stage Victoria Legrand looks tired, weary, her hair a ragged mess, her dress a sixties-looking pantsuit is unflattering in its shape and style. Her counterpart, guitarist Alex Scally fares no better, flaunting tucked in lumberjack attire and a prominent moustache, which combined make them the oddest looking of couple in the room, and considering this concert is taking place in Shoreditch, London’s fashion zoo, it does say something. But for a band who’ve probably been living out of a single suitcase for the past month, you have to be understanding.

A seductive voice but a staid presence, Legrand is self-effacing but distant as they move through the choicest moments from Devotion, Legrand’s head half-tilted, hair hanging in front of her eyes as the music sways back and forth. Scally drifts around the stage in slow waltzes with his guitar, the audience for the most part is quiet in the quiet parts and appreciative in-between. An asset of having songs that lull you into a passive stance is that you’re generally rooted to the spot, held under Legrand’s spell. Songs from Devotion form the bulk of the set, from the soothing opener “You Came To Me” to the Hawaiian bossa nova strains of closer “Astronaut”. When held next to “Tokyo Witch” and “Apple Orchard” from their self-titled debut they only highlight what a leap forward Devotion was in terms of the bands sound.

In as much that their self-titled debut had pointed the way forward for what Devotion became, it only begs to question what will album three sound like? An untitled new song and recent non-album single “Used To Be” indicate the band to be less reliant on the organ to dictate the flow, pushing toward a more natural, percussive feel. Perhaps Legrand will step away from the confines of the keyboard and embrace the role of the lead singer a little more and give our heavy-lidded eyes something to follow.

You Came To Me
Wedding Bell
Tokyo Witch
New Song
Master Of None
Heart of Chambers
Used To Be
Apple Orchard