I’m going to start this review honestly and tell you Beach House is my favorite band of all time. With their striking guitar and otherworldly organ, I’ve often described Beach House as what it would sound like if my soul had a soundtrack. The band’s slow but steady pace is perfect for virtually any mood. I’m already a Beach House fan but the masterpiece they’ve created with 7 is unparalleled and guaranteed to make you a fan as well.
Beach House is a Baltimore-based dream pop band formed by vocalist/organist Victoria LeGrand and guitarist Alex Scally. Formed in 2004, they began what is Beach House after the two met up when LeGrand was moving back after schooling in Paris and ended up crashing at Scally’s place. The rest is, as they say, history.
The group released their self-titled debut in 2006 which ranked 16 on Pitchfork’s Best Albums of the Year. In 2008, the band would see the release of their breakout album, Teen Dream. The album was released to critical acclaim and solidified the duo as dynamic and powerful icons of the dream pop genre. In 2015, the band released Depression Cherry, a diaphanous and melancholic meditation as well as its sister album, Thank Your Lucky Stars, an album of songs written at the same time that didn’t fit with the rest of Depression Cherry. On May 11, Beach House released their seventh album, 7 (not including 2017’s B-Sides and Rarities release).
7 is a breathtaking display of their understanding of themselves as artists. The group explores new facets of their sound without changing the atmospheric and ethereal elements that draw their fans in. The band plays more with the synthesized sounds and drum machines than on previous albums, which you can hear on the first single, “Lemon Glow”. Tracks like “Black Car” rely on a synthesized marimba pattern as the foundation to the song, before adding organ and Victoria’s soft voice to build up. The song feels, in a way, almost like a track from Stranger Things.
However, “L’Inconnue” (named after an unidentified French woman whose death mask was a popular decoration among artists in the early 1900s, for what it’s worth) is, in true Beach House fashion, an organ-based angelic masterpiece. The song begins with Victoria’s vocals layered and reverb-ed as if we are listening to a choir. LeGrand’s voice sounds almost like an organ itself, as the organ slowly creeps up accompanied by Scally’s lingering guitar. The song eventually features a haunting French verse, underscoring the title as well as LeGrand’s French upbringing and schooling.
We also get a rarity for a Beach House album, with acoustic guitar laying the groundwork for “Lose Your Smile.” At first, the guitars seem uplifting and warm, but Legrand’s echoing lyrics bring us back down to earth. The song is the aural version of when it rains but the sun is still shining.
Beach House’s sound is described best by feelings. Organs that feel warm and angelic, like dust motes floating through the sun. Vocals that are cool and echoing like the feeling of your hair drifting through water. Piercing, atmospheric guitars that feel like the sharp moment in your chest before your cry. Beach House marries all the chaotic formlessness of dream pop in a harmonious and otherworldly venture.
Beach House’s 7 is bound to make you swoon and, if you’re already a fan, fall deeper down the well with them. This is a band that creates depth of feeling effortlessly. They know how to create a mood, that despite the surface level melancholic tones, can feel euphoric, introspective, and warm. From the minute 7 begins, you’re transported to a dream world--a celestial and formless world, where it’s always okay to feel your feelings--all of Beach House’s making.
For Fans of: Alvvays, The Cocteau Twins, and looking up through green leaves at pinpricks of warm sunlight
Our take: slow and drifting guitars, haunting vocals, hypnotic synth, creates a mood