Best tunes of 2010: #11 Beach House “Used to be”

Okay. So I know that Beach House’s “Used to be” was originally released as a single in 2008, something brand new after the Baltimore-based dream pop duo had just spent months on the road touring their last album, and they were aching to get back to the studio. But the album version, placed midway through the track listing of 2010’s incredible “Teen dream”, is the version I heard first and am more familiar with, so I had no issues including it as number eleven on my Best of 2010 list.

I had been loosely following Beach House since the release of their self-titled debut back in 2006 and saw them open for The Clientele the following year. I say ‘loosely’ because while I had both of their first two albums and thought they were pleasant to listen to, I only ever really considered them fodder for background music. The worlds created by Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally were light and airy but also grim and plodding up to that point. It all changed for me with the third album and “Used to be” really anchored the shift. It is all very dreamy still, synth washes abound and Legrand’s breathy delivery is just lovely, but it was like the sun came out and they found something to be cheerful about.

Interesting, then, that the song that spearheaded their move towards upbeat rhythms was written as an examination of the passing of time, of aging, and seeing things change. Beach House shakes a little fairy dust, sings a lullaby, the rhythmic snare counts off the seconds like years, and you’re off to your dream world, seeing things as you remembered them. Even the piano chimes, echoing the vocal melody, are nostalgic, sounding every bit like that toy piano you wanted for Christmas when you were six. It’s a happy place, this song, all innocence and pure joy.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.

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