BEACH HOUSE: Devotion [Carpark]

Beach House’s druggy, dreamy self-titled debut drew polite applause from the indie cognoscenti in 2006, but expect the thunderous standing ovation three songs into this sterling sophomore record. “Gila,” a monster slice of minor-key guitar noir, lurches to life like a sinister wind-up toy with guitarist Alex Scully’s gently weeping six-string octaves, unrelenting Transylvanian organ and vampish singer Victoria Legrand’s moaned vocals. It’s a bona fide star-making turn—the best track on either Beach House record—and along with the rest of Devotion, it’s sure to change the way people think about the Baltimore duo. Legrand’s gauzy yawns were a large part of the first LP’s appeal, but the overly simple waltz-time instrumentation often amounted to nothing but narcotic, carnivalesque mood music. On Devotion, the melodies and arrangements take center stage, and they’re consistently stunning, never more so than on “Gila” and in the stretch to follow. A syncopated girl-group swoon (“Holy Dances”), swirling sonnet (“All The Years”) and Cream-worthy guitar showcase (“Heart Of Chambers”) all seem to fit together as thematic movements in one flawless, three-part pop sonata. [www.carparkrecords.com]

—Noah Bonaparte Pais