After about four years of road trips, foreign adventures, and folksy demos, Rhode Island brothers Michael Joseph (instrumentalist/songwriter) and Dante Joseph (lead singer) make their musical debut with Beach House under the pen name the font club. What first-time listeners can appreciate from the 24-year-old and 21-year-old’s (respectively) project are their DIY folk-rock sound and splendidly focused trumpeter acoustics to match.
In the very first track, appropriately titled “Intro,” listeners are initially deceived for a brief moment with the opening The All-American Rejects-esque drum pattern (in which they probably expect some kind of “Move Along” cover to unfold) -- but that is not the case when the pleasant strum of a mandolin is suddenly made, followed by an intoxicating melody accompanied by harmonious trumpets. Upon further listen of Beach House, it is made clear that the brotherly duo is not influenced in any way by a pop punk band, but in every way by the likes of The Airborne Toxic Event, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, and The Oh Hellos. The duo would also be remiss to not include Bob Dylan on that list.
Beach House commemorates the “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” singer on its third track entitled “Bob Dylan’s Guitar.” Of course, through catchy guitar strums, Dante nonchalantly recollects the scene of gossiping girls and football players in the school gymnasium, but more introspectively sings about finding one’s purpose in a capricious world.
The Joseph’s continue to explore the unstable nature of the self and fickle nature of relationships in the title track “Beach House.” In the tumult of not knowing how to fix personal problems, or romantic ones, the two find comfort, security, and a home at their beach house with family and friends. “I’ll settle in and grab some friends and we’ll sit by the sea and one of those girls will have no clue what she’s doing to me,” the singer expresses. Michael further explains in an interview, “Let’s just say there are plenty of frustrations to vent through song!” Well, luckily, that beach house serves as their ultimate escape and where they believe they will find peace. “And we’ll be glad we’re all back home and we’ll be happy… and I’ll be happy,” the track concludes.
Speaking of an escape, the fourth track, “European Girls (What Nonsense),” is perhaps the climax of the folksy album. The European-inspired song contains random outbursts of “C’mon!“, “Oh no!” and “Here we go!” and breaks the album's somber acoustics in a fun, upbeat, conversational way. This track is unique to the album and really gets the crowd going, making it the true folk-y soul of the album, along with the jig-y relief listeners didn’t know they needed. The clap-along-song makes us want to dance out our emotional frustration, as opposed to the majority of the album, which generally makes us want to cry a river (or ocean) of tears and drown in them.
“Pyre” and “Toward the End, With the Light, It Was Tough – Interlude” bring us back into a gloomier mood both lyrically and musically. The former encompasses the burning desire of wanting to feel alive after feeling numb for so long and as the songwriter puts it, “needing a spark to stay inspired.” It also manages to incorporate the beach-y theme of the album and again, expresses the beach as a kind of escape. “The ocean breeze will carry us so far away,” the singer remarks. The latter is the second instance of full-on instrumentals in the album. With nothing but the sound of soothing hums and guitar strums (dreamily soft for half the song and then electrifyingly bold for the other half), our minds have the chance to just wander and reflect for 2:15 minutes, which is the length of the track.
After some select time of self-reflection, we are brought back into romantic frustration. “Dublin,” the eighth track and second European-inspired track on Beach House, explores the obstacles of a long-distance relationship. Through lyrics like “if you were any closer it’d be hard to live without you” and “it’s a shame that you had to move” the track grapples with the longing desire of wanting to be with someone who is just too far out of reach.
Tracks 10 and 11, “No More Songs” and “Tis Bitter the Wind Tonight,” finally and organically expand upon the record’s sense of teary solemnness. The former delves into a depressive state of nostalgia over a past love. With statements like “these songs won’t let me let go of you” and “I don’t want to write no more songs/I just want to live,” the singer and songwriter express the very present weight of a past love and how that weight may just be slowly killing them. We get a similar sense of feeling heavy, or more so, sense of drowning, with the wave-crashing introduction of the final track. Through feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, the lyrics “if this is meant to be then I should be much more worried than I am,” are monotonously sung. Ultimately, the ominousness of this narrative persists until the track leaves us at a familiar scene at the beach, concluding with the soothing sounds of waves crashing against each other and gradually transitioning into complete silence.
The silence is temporary though, as the folk brothers plan on making a lot more noise beyond their debut album. We can expect to hear more of them in a few new collaborations and see more of them at upcoming festivals in Boston, Massachusetts.
Beach House definitely proves that newbies Michael and Dante Joseph have what it takes to travel to all parts of the world and bring us on a journey that is far more profound than any plane ride or road trip – and that would be a musical journey.