Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Dark Spring: A Quick Review Of The New Beach House Album

Beach House make music that lends itself to lazy categorizations. The truth is, to reduce this sort of stuff to dream-pop or shoegaze would be both wrong and far too simplistic. The reality is that this duo, from Baltimore originally, craft sonic landscapes that blend elements of those genres with bits and pieces of other things -- soundtracks, Brill Building pop, ambient -- in the process of making their brand of sublime, totally unique American indie.

The new album from Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally is called 7 and it's the 7th Beach House album proper, and a set of tunes that marks the 77th songs the 2 have released together, according to the press materials. All that suggests a band that might be on the verge of running out of ideas but, with 7 producer Sonic Boom in tow, Beach House have brought forth something special here. The album, out on Friday via Sub Pop, kicks off with the pulsing otherworldly charms of "Dark Spring", a cut that is still grounded in traditional pop-craft. "Drunk in LA" and "Black Car" are breathy explorations of the space between trip-pop and drone-rock, the production by Sonic Boom surely seen here by astute listeners as the progression from the sort of tunes he was pursuing in Spacemen 3 and, later, Spectrum. Elsewhere, the more direct "Lose Your Smile" suggests a debt owed to West Coast pop of the past, think faint hints of Jimmy Webb and Neil Young here. If "Girl of the Year" sees Legrand coo in the fashion of Liz on a Cocteau Twins record circa 1990, then album closer "Last Ride" is a near-epic rumination that's closer to Seefeel, or a Ride ballad, than anything else.

And to name-check other artists is, perhaps, to do a disservice here as the music of Beach House remains indelibly one of a kind. The duo manage to imbue their explorations in these genres with a freshness that the offerings of any number of new, proto-shoegaze, or dream-pop wannabes will never possess. So, name-dropping in a review like this is only meant to place this fine material in a sort of context for newer fans of this duo. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have made a record here in 7 that envelopes, and rewards a careful listener. Effortlessly easy to embrace, 7 is something to seek out when it drops on Sub Pop on Friday.

More details on Beach House via the band's official website, or via their official Facebook page.

[Photo: Shawn Brackbill]