It’s tough to say much about Beach House. They are one of the most consistent musical acts of the 2000s. They release new music every couple of years, play some shows, and get back to work. Any one of their albums could be your favorite. There is rarely a blip, let alone a miss. The soundtrack to your daydreams, the chillest of vibes, Beach House deliver once again with 7.
The aptly-titled 7 is Beach House’s seventh album. Produced by Peter Kember (a.k.a. Sonic Boom, a vanguard of minimal psychedelia), it feels almost like bragging. Yes, this is our seventh great album in 12 years. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally could host a seminar on collaborating creatively. Both make beautiful marks all over their work, never shouting over each other, only highlighting their collective talent.
7 rolls out perfectly. It’s the right length, each track lands in the right spot. “Dark Spring” is an upbeat opener that burns out into the slow, plodding Beach House we know on “Pay No Mind.” Pure percussions lead the way, but slip back into the lazy, fuzzy haze Scally and Legrand have perfected over the past 10 years.
“Lemon Glow,” the first single from 7, is murky Trap-pop. It’s the kind of song that doesn’t get old. It’s a song that will show up on your algorithmically-generated playlists years from now.
But Beach House isn’t just trudging drum machines and echo pedals. They’ll find a sample, something that makes a good song great, like the groovy Latin beat on “Drunk in LA.” “Dive” is long winding epic built on organ and drawn out chords. It’s the formula that works well.
“L’Inconnue” (a delicious Francophile treat) has a goth vibe, like This Mortal Coil with shredding instead of strings. “Last Ride” has a lovely piano melody and several minutes of blissful feedback. “Woo” is a swirling dreamscape sprinkled with overheard soundbytes, like wearing headphones and watching a party in slow motion. It has strong Spiritualized vibes, perhaps the Kember influence, but is distinctively Beach House at the same time.
Lyrically, tracks like “Lemon Glow” and “Woo” are fine examples of what Beach House does so well. “I want it all, but I can't have it / It inches by but I cannot say much,” are the broad, sweeping strokes Legrand and Scally are known for. Their lyrics paint an atmosphere, through repetition and obscurity. Their lyrical minimalism gives the music a timeless, inclusive quality, one of the keys to their consistency.
Beach House’s album release schedule has been methodical and practical. They’ve been able to somehow milk the combination of reverb, echo pedals and ethereal vocals without it becoming formulaic. Despite the proverbial cleaning of the musical closet on their last album, B-side and Rarities, 7 is not far from where Beach House started. After a decade, their sound isn’t at all tired. How have they crafted so many beautiful albums, aging much better than several of their peers, out of gently leaning on an organ? It’s shoegaze, dream pop, whatever you choose to call it, but still uniquely Beach House and done to perfection.
Notable Tracks: “Dive” | “Lemon Glow” | “Woo”