Back in early 2010, I had a deep obsession with the now-infamous microgenre known primarily as “chillwave”. It was characterized by its heavy use of reverb, synthesizers, and looped samples along with the appropriation of ’80s pop music tendencies; its ringleaders were artists such as Washed Out, Neon Indian and Toro Y Moi, all groups that started off as one-man projects creating warped, intimate synthpop in the dark confines of their bedrooms.
Once the cold, grey winter finally gave way to the blooming warmth of a New Hampshire spring, I began to perform what has now become somewhat of an annual ritual: scouring online music publications and handfuls of blogs in an attempt to find the perfect collection of songs that would soundtrack my imminent summer (half the time I change my mind when fresh new songs get dropped into my lap anyway, but cut me some slack, it’s a guilty pleasure).
It was around this time that I stumbled across the debut Surf Noir EP of Seattle electro-pop duo Beat Connection, and after hearing their first single, the appropriately-titled “In the Water,” I was hooked. Their melodies and beats shone with a surprising clarity that immediately distinguished them from their like-minded peers, and the EP was on constant rotation until the bitter chill of fall reared its head once more.
A number of things have changed since then. Chillwave’s reign over the kingdom of indie culture has passed, the duo is now a quartet, and those aforementioned bedroom-pop producers have since ditched the reverb that clouded their vocals, now opting for a more conventional, full-blooded electropop approach.
Beat Connection’s music was never particularly hazy to begin with, but on their debut album, The Palace Garden, they sound more polished and crisp than ever, exemplified by the fantastic advance single “The Palace Garden, 4am,” where they showcase their abilities as a full-on Balearic dance group. The song bounces along on an effervescent cloud of toe-tapping drums, a weightless bass line and new singer/guitarist Tom Eddy’s beautiful vocals. Eddy is the star of the show here, delivering some insanely catchy melodies as well as lyrics that glow with a youthful earnestness.
“Palace Garden 4am, she is under my arm, I am under her skin / In an attempt to seal the deal, step away for a minute, let the tension build,” he sings, whisking us away for three and a half minutes to their dream-like world of endless evenings, one-night stands and shimmering lights.
And although whatever they search for may ultimately be beyond their reach (“Take me when you go, no one has to know,” he later pleads), the wistful beauty of this song is well within ours, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t let them soundtrack these precious few summer months.
T.T. THE BEAR’S
10 BROOKLINE ST.