Words by James Robertson
13 years, seven albums and a total of 77 songs released: that’s the narrative that accompanies Beach House‘s new album, the aptly titled 7. Now let’s just take a minute to let that sink in. 13 years is a long time for any band to be making music, never mind one who has (relatively speaking) stuck with the formula that works for them and creates a very specific world for their listeners: hazy dream pop with beautiful vocals and luscious synths. The thing with Beach House is that you often know what you’re getting and yet with every album, they manage to find ways of subverting these expectations – 7 is no different.
For this album the duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally give themselves more room to work with. While they would usually only record what they could replicate live, with 7, they have given themselves free reign to craft an even fuller and more rounded vision than previous albums.
Opening track ‘Dark Springs’ kicks off the record with a sense of immediacy that has been missing from previous releases. The thundering drums, layered with dreamy synths and harmonies remind you that whilst they may not be the only dream pop band out there, they are most definitely one of the best. Shedding the limitations of previous albums allows them to double down on their ethereal pop songs, such as ‘Lemon Glow’, which is where the album really comes alive. Compared to previous slower and more assured albums, 7 is one that is louder and full of bombast which no doubt is both a reflection and a reaction to the current world climate.
It’s practically impossible to listen to the album and not imagine that you’re watching a film play out. While many synth-driven bands intentionally create a soundtrack vibe, 7 inhabits this completely, with tracks like ‘Pay Your Mind’ which has the qualities of an 80s anthem that you’d almost expect to hear on a darker John Hughes flick. This is where traditional Beach House themes come shining through, as the band dances around with ideas of light and dark. Where ‘Drunk in LA’ has a sun kissed vibe to it with its building synth, ‘Black Car’ hauntingly digs its hooks in, as it takes you on a nocturnal trip through the dark recesses of the band’s mind, with organs that threaten to swallow you whole.
Whilst the journey you take with 7 is vibrant and beautiful, it’s not entirely new. Some songs are definitely reminiscent of previous albums but it’s easy to let this minor gripe go when you reach the end of the record. Album closer ‘The Last Ride’ is a culmination of the record and everything Beach House excels in: haunting synths, hypnotic shoegaze drums and sublime vocals. It’s a song that makes you feel like you’ve reached the end, but makes you want to go back and start all over again. It’s like sitting down and watching the sunset knowing you’ll be back again tomorrow, with the perfect soundtrack in tow.
7 IS OUT THIS FRIDAY (11/5) VIA BELLA UNION. PRE-ORDER HERE:
Lead photo: Shawn Brackbill