Sub Pop · May 11, 2018
Beach House’s sound is immediately recognizable with each new release, yet Legrand and Scally maintain freshness and originality that is undeniable on their most recent album.
Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, the modern dream-pop masterminds behind Beach House, continue to keep listeners refreshed with their ever-evolving sound, yet distinct style that is stronger than ever with their newest and fittingly titled seventh album, 7. Following the June 2017 release of B-Sides and Rarities, a treat for both dedicated Beach House listeners and fresh ears, the band continues to deliver unique sounds within their perfectly crafted soundscape. Their first single from the album, “Lemon Glow,” released on Valentine’s Day this year, gives listeners a taste into the mystical and romantic sound that flows through the entirety of 7. Beach House’s sound is immediately recognizable with each new release, yet Legrand and Scally maintain freshness and originality that is undeniable on their most recent album.
Beginning the album with “Dark Spring,” riveting drumming launches the listener into the melancholy world in which “the color’s missing,” yet it nonetheless remains beautiful and articulately crafted. Filled with psychedelic echoed guitar that resembles early shoegaze, Legrand’s voice floats along with each touch of the keyboard guiding her.
The end of “Dark Spring” transitions flawlessly into “Pay No Mind,” with the echoed guitar of the former revolving straight into the complimentary chords that begin the latter. With a steady and slow drum rhythm, Legrand’s articulate singing with interspersed clear guitar strumming and echoed humming makes “Pay No Mind” one of the dreamiest songs of the album.
“Lemon Glow,” transports the listener’s senses to a velvety smooth and romantic vibe immediately following the melancholy of “Dark Spring” and “Pay No Mind.” Beginning with reverberated keyboard rhythms, Legrand clearly sings about “when you turn the lights down low / Lemon color honey glow,” allowing one to feel the warmth and imagine the dimly lit romantic setting. Following the sensual lyrics is an incredible guitar hook that will surely echo through minds for days to come. The track is ultimately the highlight of the album that demonstrates the musical beauty that Legrand and Scally are continually capable of producing.
In “L’Inconnue,” French for “the unknown,” Legrand begins with doubled vocals that mimics a religious choir and eventually weaves into minimalist guitar. The song evolves as Legrand sings in French, and proves just when you thought Beach House couldn’t get any dreamier, they do. Transitioning back into English alongside a steady and traditional Beach House keyboard rhythm, the song begins layering on itself with French and English singing accompanying each other with choir-like echoes and the occasional steady drumbeats gliding until the end of the song fades out.
After the innocence of “L’Inconnue,” the band puts its own depressing spin on the timeless yet worn out story of the darkness of Los Angeles in “Drunk in LA.” The song does not progress into much more than Legrand singing of how she is “loving losing life” with a steady keyboard beat and drawn out guitar, and is moreover the weakest song on the album.
“Dive,” another single previously released for the album, begins slowly as a tease and then dives into guitar rhythms and up-tempo drumming that cover previously uncharted territory for the band with almost surf rock-esque effects and a faster-than-usual tempo. The eventual pace of the song is the perfect pick-up in the middle of 7 and is a refreshing new sound for the band that proves they have more than a few tricks up their sleeves in regards to creating new sounds.
The final single of the album, “Black Car,” begins with an almost ring-tone resembling rhythm that is picked up by both a solid drumbeat and heavy synth that unfurls with Legrand’s dreamy voice. The song remains steady as elements of synth, keyboard, drums, and singing layer continuously and eventually fade out as slowly as they were introduced. While slow, the song has a uniquely mysterious and dark feel that make it yet another glowing song of the album.
In “Lose Your Smile,” the song begins with an acoustic guitar – a rarity for Beach House that makes it all the more special. Reminiscent of guitar off Beck’s Sea Change, the crisp acoustic sound pairs with Legrand’s voice in a way previously unmatched as the duality of the acoustics and the echoed singing creating a heavenly scene filled with “Sunshine in the rain” where “Dreams, baby, do come true.”
“Woo” starts off sounding like a new-wave hit resembling the likes of Nena’s “99 Red Balloons,” but immediately launches into a combination of both 80’s synth and dream pop that only Beach House could pull off. The final two songs of the album, “Girl of the Year” and “Last Ride,” ease listeners gracefully out of the dark and melancholy world of 7 and bring them back to reality – a reality in which there could never be enough Beach House to satisfy one’s listening.
Ultimately, 7 is a silky, irresistible album that will keep listeners in love (and depressed) for as long as they are tuned in and long afterwards. The glow of the album is sure to radiate on, as it is a testament to the way in which Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally manage to continually create new sounds while maintaining the magic that comes with each new Beach House release.