An album as outstanding as Teen Dream deserves an encore. Thankfully, the brief yet lovely Zebra EP provides one.
What Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House may lack in variety is more than compensated for with atmosphere -- dreamlike, textured, and seeped in luscious reverb. This, coupled with a sincerely gorgeous set of melodies, has already made Teen Dream one of the most deservedly acclaimed records of the year; Zebra EP, released in honor of this year’s annual Record Store Day, is far more an extension than a departure, and that’s fine by me.
The EP offers two new tracks, presumably from the Teen Dream sessions: the waltz-like, minor key “Baby” and the lilting, damn near sing-songy “The Arrangement”. The latter is the clear highlight. With a winding piano pattern reminiscent of R.E.M.’s “Perfect Circle”, the song feels perhaps too airy, too light to fit amidst Teen Dream’s swirling density.
Bookending these are two familiar remixes with more mixed success. “Zebra” remains one of Teen Dream’s most irresistible moments, buoyed by yearning vocal sighs and lyrics describing its eponymous “black and white horse arching among us”. (The so-dubbed UK radio edit included here is near indistinguishable from its album counterpart, aside from a minute cut off towards the end.) Only “10 Mile Stereo”’s “Cough Syrup Remix” falls flat, effectively sucking the life out of the song by slowing the original’s steady tempo to a dirge-like crawl and replacing its instrumental depth with monolithic sheets of reverb. A shame, too -- Zebra EP is otherwise a worthy encore to an outstanding LP.