Travis’ Fran Healy Is Happy To Hang Around: Beach House’s “Teen Dream”

The yearning voice and sullen temperament behind the languid and lush Scottish outfit Travis, Fran Healy has been laying low of late. The primary task on his to-do list: commune with his diverse surroundings while recording his first solo effort in New York, Vermont and (mostly) Berlin. Whether the new Wreckorder (Ryko) benefits from that far-flung trio of locales—or guest appearances from Neko Case and Paul McCartney—is largely irrelevant to anyone who’s not already smitten by Healy’s majestically restrained brand of mope-rock understatement. The 10-song collection occasionally recalls the quieter moments on the already-pretty-quiet The Invisible Band, Travis’ 2001 LP. Only here, Healy turns even more insular as he’s left to stew in his own introspective juices. Healy will be guest-editing all week. Read our Q&A with him.

Healy: Our guitar tech Nick Freemantle gave me this record the week it came out. I gave it a vague listen for two minutes, jumping through each track, but was deep in recording-my-album mode and so didn’t get back to it until four months later. We went on holiday to St. Barts, a French island in the Caribbean, for for weeks. We’d not been on a holiday for five years, and when we arrived I plugged my laptop into the stereo and thought the name Beach House seemed appropriate for that moment. I was blown away. Having listened to it now 100 times, I think it’s one of the best records in a long while. Their top-line melodies, their lyrical hooks, his playing and her unreal voice make me feel as though they were frozen at a time when melody was purer and more simple. There is a school of people who see melody as some kind of easy dumb thing, but it’s the hardest feat of all to discover a new combination of notes that unlocks a classic song. Beach House have this on each of the songs of their third album, Teen Dream.