Being a Beach House fan often feels like an act of patience. Patience between albums, patience for songs to slowly start revealing themselves after a dozen listens, and patience in hoping that each iteration will bring a shift in their delicate and perfectly-honed sound.
That patience is rewarded on their album 7, which takes the fatigue from their last double-header and makes some serious sonic shifts. There’s a concerted effort for progression, and while it doesn’t always work it certainly revives a lot of what we loved about Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally.
In some ways, they sound like a mainstream grunge-indebted shoegaze band from the 00s. Dark Spring has that Secret Machines sort of fuzz to it, but there are chord progressions that sound like the weaves of a kaleidoscope. Pay No Mind again goes for a more conventional construction, its “baby at night when I look at you” chorus aiming for a lighter-in-the-air moment. And lead track Dive is where the new sound suits them the most, a celestial melody that dares to come down for a turret-fire coda and ends up being one of their greatest to date.
There are still remnants of the old Beach House though. Lemon Glow keeps the repetition of production they love to build on so much, obfuscating Legrand’s words in the right way. The ache is alive and well on Drunk In LA, a glorious wooziness that reminds us of the glory just before Lose Your Smile reinforces it completely. Whatever you think of the new flourishes, there’s no doubt that Beach House are still challenging each other to make their finest art.
In a way it’s great that Thank Your Lucky Stars came out so soon after Depression Cherry, as it almost seems prescient a title now. Beach House are lucky to have mined enough goodwill over the years for people to have questioned their direction while sticking with them, but as we said earlier the patience of being a Beach House fan is not without reward this time. 7 is a wondrous return, not exactly ‘to form’ but to a new elevated level for one of our favourite bands of all time. They’re still as challenging as ever – the sludge of Girl of the Year is worth sticking with for so many reasons – but they’ve opened up in exciting new ways that will reignite not only their own soundscape but every fan’s interest for years to come.