By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Downer duo Beach House first made waves with its 2006 single "Apple Orchard," which copped the breathy vocals and slide guitar of Mazzy Star and buried them under layers of cavernous reverb and buzzing organ. Two years later the band's bewitching formula hasn't really changed—upon first listen Devotion floats by like a half-forgotten dream with nary a varied tempo, and with several songs sounding eerily "Orchard"-like thanks to the same sluggish, clicking drum machine the band used on its debut.
Only with repeat listens do the album's substantial charms finally reveal themselves: The subtle nuances of each song worm their way into the recesses of your brain, whether it's Alex Scally's magical, echo-heavy guitar line on "Gila" or the girl-group-on-Quaaludes "la la las" of "You Came To Me." Even the drum machine gets a little help—"Holy Dances" throws some sprightly handclaps and tambourines into the mix, while "All the Years" and "D.A.R.L.I.N.G." add sleigh bells and finger snaps for good measure. But if any song here is destined for surefire "last skate, couples only" immortality, it's "Heart of Chambers," on which singer/keyboardist Victoria Legrand belts it out like a stoned Ronnie Spector, pleading "Would you be my longtime baaaaayybeeeee?!" No wonder the band suggests you buy the double-LP vinyl version; your ears alone aren't enough—they want your devotion, dammit.
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