Beach House – 7 (Sub Pop)

Classic Dream Pop is the best music to fall asleep to.

With its constant harmonies, slow tempos, drawn out droning, elegant distortion and gorgeously breathy vocals, good Dream Pop is akin to a lullaby sung by someone you loved as a child as you were nestled somewhere warm and safe. It can both ensnare and quieten your mind, offering a soundscape for the space between the conscious and unconcious, where the surreal and the sacchrine intertwine.

Enter Baltimore duo Beach House‘s latest album, the aptly named ‘7.’ While they don’t completely start anew and change direction, it is a bigger step forward than their past efforts; thus making 7 Beach House’s boldest album to date.

Explosive opener Dark Spring combines scuzzier reverb laden harmonies with Beach House‘s quintessentially pretty harmonies and guitar florishes.  Recorded with their live drummer James Barone, rhythm is at the heart of this album.In contrast, Thank Your Lucky Stars had a static drum machine, giving each of the songs a rigidity which they are now lacking. The result feels more organic and brings the sutble darkness of Legrand’s lyrics to the fore. Dive is another stand out track in this regard- its bass underbelly gives the song a gritiness and weight that has not been previously explored by the band and is an exciting development.  7 maintains a nuanced, cinematic atmosphere that manages to call back to Beach House’s previous efforts while remaining fresh.

Chiaroscuro is another feature of this album; from the cover art to lead single Lemon Glow  the swirling tension between light and dark is expertly maintained. The bouncy tempo of Lemon Glow is a refreshing change from the washed out drone typically heard from Beach House, but the song is given stability via Legrand’s measured vocal delivery.

Lyrically, I’ve always thought of Beach House as an abstract painting; they capture moods rather than tell explicit stories and 7 is some of their most evocative and telling yet. With lines such as “Memory’s a sacred meat that’s drying all the time/ On a hillside I remember I am loving losing life,”  on Drunk in LA and playfully chanted feminine archetypes in L’Inconnue, there could be an argument that this is a shift towards the autobiographical for Legrand; the realisation of her own mortality in a society and industry that fetishises youth.

Over 13 years and six albums, Beach House have by now managed to thoroughly capture their sound. Each album was incrementally more adventurous than the previous offering, but they’ve never done a complete sonic shift. A welcome step from an excellent band. But I’d still love to see them leap.

Kate Powell