Review: 7 — Beach House

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Review: 7 — Beach House

Rhea Thomas

Keeping to the core of their dream-pop aesthetic, Baltimore duo, Beach House, have come out with 7 — maybe a little slower, more driving, darker and eerier version of their earlier albums. Teaming up with new producer, Peter Kember (MGMT, Panda Bear, etc), there’s nothing holding this album back from the crunchy synth sound that fans are familiar with, though what 7 does promise is a new layer of embellishment, burying us in lush new experiments and embedding themselves into this restyled sound.

Some of the highlights: starting with a short drum fill, the album wastes no time before launching into its dreamy drive with “Dark Spring”. Easily a stand-out track on this album, there’s something here for listeners already familiar with Beach House, but also with new additions of guitar feedback resonating throughout the track and stronger cymbal sounds than ever before. It’s an easy contrast to “Lemon Glow”, potentially the track with the darkest sounding pre-chorus — “when you turn the lights down low”. Legrand’s vocals drip with anticipation in all the right places and crawl under your skin with its unusually pitched double vocals and phrasing. Next, a sound that we’re not too familiar with, “L’Inconnue” creates the most beautiful staggered chordal melodies that work as a synth of their own, before fleshing out the synth/vocal combination iconic to their earlier albums. A real manipulation of pronunciation, the French lyrical interlude on the track needles in sync with the drums reminiscent of those on Depression Cherry and Bloom.

There are new sounds emerging from tracks such as “Black Car” and “Woo”, offering something more dramatically spoken, crisp, hollow and raw. But despite this, there are certainly some songs which stray and meander from the newness. “Lose Your Mind” and “Girl of the Year” add some filling but don’t fully indulge Beach House’s experimental fantasies at all. Instead, there’s some monotony throughout these weaker tracks, keeping to the same dazed and droning sound for people looking for Beach House as we already know them — a shame looking at the rest of the album. It’s luckily saved by the closer “Last Ride”, a track that throws listeners in the deep end with some fresh ideas, complete with a piano hook for an ethereal finish.

This album pushes Beach House’s comfortable dream-pop into a darker territory with less haziness and sharper ideas. 7 shares a new mood with each track and ensures a gentle kind of immersion without drowning its listeners. Standing close to earlier albums like Bloom, this one doesn’t disappoint one bit, though if you’re looking for the soft Depression Cherry sound or something as melodic as Teen Dream, this might not be it. But it sure is damn good. There’s something in 7 for everyone, from the intimate whispering, to the expansive drone of the synths and feedback hum of the guitar. Beach House have done it again in recreating their subtle differences in the skin of a new sound.

Rhea Thomas