boardwalk’s music was made for the coastline, but it’s still an accessible listen for those stuck in landlocked states, like me. after forming last summer in los angeles, amber quintero and mike edge began writing the songs that appear on the duo’s self-titled debut effort. the album is full of familiar palates and orchestrations, but it’s the blending of those elements that makes boardwalk’s music decisively their own.
the first boardwalk song i heard was “i’m to blame,” and i was immediately drawn to the vintage organ sounds and muted drum machine beats that were so characteristic of beach house’s early output. while those similarities certainly are prevalent, it would be foolish to write off boardwalk’s music as a carbon copy of a perfected craft. amber quintero’s vocals are passive and reserved, free of abrasion and able to float above the textures created by mike edge. appropriately, her hooks are understated, but they’re present; both “i’m not myself” and “as a man” have a lazy, melancholy feel and float in a fairly limited vocal range, forcing their way into every ear that listens.
what really sells this record is its guitar work; comparatively crunchy for an otherwise dreamy atmosphere, the lines on “crying” and “oh well” add an assertive characteristic absent from other ethereal music similar to boardwalk. there’s a delicious blend of retro baroque pop and spacey, atmospheric qualities on boardwalk that deserves a listen or two, and it’s complete with a few left turn surprises that keep the album fresh, despite its initial familiarity. fans of early beach house and wye oak will eat this up; i’m just happy to have another album to soundtrack cold fall days.