Beach House - 7 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Beach House - 7

by Mark Moody Rating:10 Release Date:2018-05-11
Beach House - 7
Beach House - 7

If you want a touchpoint for Beach House’s latest and chronologically titled album, 7, looking to  ‘Sparks’ from 2015’s Depression Cherry isn’t a bad place to start.  Sonically that song’s fractured sizzle showed that the band’s spidery constructs could withstand some shots to the body and come out a bit battered but stronger for the experience.  On 7, longtime musical partners Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally take things a step further.  Here there are more solid cores, partly due to the smart addition of touring drummer James Barone, which are adorned by ever shifting overlays.  A lyrical snippet from the track ‘Drunk in L.A.’ describes it best - “rolling clouds over cement” as metaphor for shadings over a variety of firm pathways, some smoothly paved and others cracked by unruly roots.  

Taking a cue from the album cover, where the image is exploding outward from the center, opening track ‘Dark Spring’ has an energetic heft to it.  It is unmistakably a Beach House song but the propulsive drumming and in-and-out guitar drone give the track a new found edginess that defines not only colors.  Likewise, lead single ‘Lemon Glow’ has chopped up synth chords that run cross-wise to the beat which keeps things slightly off center.  The stability of Legrand’s vocals layered on top of the churn beneath gives a third thread for the listener to follow.  Both song’s references to darkened rooms, swirls of muted colors, and nighttime wanderings evoke a loss of innocence that is revealed more over the course of the album.

Countering the power of those songs, the folky ‘Pay No Mind’ recalls the sentimental strains of Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’ at its beginning.  With the drums toned down here, LeGrand’s oohs and aahs and brushed strings quietly carry things forward.  Another seemingly laid back turn is taken on album highlight ‘Lose Your Smile’ with its acoustic start.  Though over its course a fuzzy thrum of a backbone forms with pronounced swoops of guitar coming in towards the end.  It’s this willingness of the band to not just find a perfect wave and ride it to shore, but to wander back out and let the rip current pummel them with the grit of sand and broken shells that sets 7 apart.  This is most pronounced on the centerpiece ‘Dive’, where given what precedes it you can only wonder if Legrand’s delicate whisper and simple synth strain are headed into choppy waters.  When that gives way to a New Order-ish rhythmic close it shows a band willing to mix things up without being jarring.  

‘Drunk in L.A.’ and ‘Woo’ are more reminiscent of earlier works, while ‘Black Car’ takes us on a decidedly dark atmospheric detour worthy of the song’s title.  The gravity of the undulating church organ chord that pulls the listener through ‘Girl of the Year’ paints a graceful sadness and pushes towards the album’s close.  The song is vocally more direct about the corruptible purity hinted at earlier with lines like “get dressed to undress” and “they all wanna see me come undone”.  Finally, the seven minute closer, ‘Last Ride’, builds slowly from simply played piano notes to a racket of treated guitars, feedback phases, and drums as daylight breaks over what betrayals the night held.  

As any Beach House fan knows, their albums and songs take time to reveal themselves if they ever fully do.  With all that is going on over the course of 7, that is even more so the case here. Ask any fan what their favorite of the band’s albums is and you could easily get seven different answers with this new chapter.  And given the strength of the tracks here, eleven fans could argue for each of the songs on 7 being the best one and each of them would be right.  A spectacularly weighty addition to their catalog in sound, feel and "girl lost to the night" content.          

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