BEACH HOUSE / 7
Dream-pop duo Beach House return with another collection of melancholic pop gems, and while overall their output has been critically adored, when they are criticised, it is accusations of predictability. Although it may be true that Beach House haven’t undergone a seismic shift in identity, when they are still creating gorgeous, chamber mood pieces such as these, why would you want them to? On 7, the inevitable comparisons to Cocteau Twins and Mazzy Star are still as relevant as before, and the talk of ethereal, swelling guitarscapes still totally valid. But this isn’t to say there isn’t a progression from their previous work. In fact, it is arguably their most varied collection.
On lead single ‘Lemon Glow’, producer Sonic Boom (Peter Kember) contributes to an ambient atmosphere with sounds and textures reminiscent of Brain Eno’s work on Slowdive’s ‘Sing’, whilst opener ‘Dark Spring’ concerns itself more with immediacy: a propulsive baseline which evokes Arcade Fire’s early, more direct indie-rock approach. ‘Pay No Mind’ is a distortion ballad like you’d find on Disintergration or Darklands, but going into the final third we’re met with the acoustic lead ‘Lose Your Smile’, which has the space-rock appeal that would not make it seem out of place on a Flaming Lips record. The diversity of the album isn’t the only thing striking about it. With the multi-layered looping harmonies on ‘L’Inconnue’ and ‘Dive’, we are again reminded of just how powerful a vocal presence Victoria Legrand is, both distinct from, but as equally devastating, as her predecessors Hope Sandoval and Julee Cruise. Album highlight, sinister electro number ‘Black Car’, reminds me of the darker moments you’d find on a Chromatics album, with its pop accessibility, yet uncanny otherworldly quality. Interestingly, the track’s music video heavily features the iconic Black Lodge floor pattern from Twin Peaks, a show as important for the popularisation of dream-pop as the artists that formed it, as well as a show which Chromatics performed live on during it’s glorious TV return in 2017. Before being made aware of the video, I thought ‘Black Car’ would have been a perfect episode closer to the surrealist show, and while we may never see another episode, I do hope we hear another diverse collection of songs from this Balitimore duo.