The Lowdown: After settling into a comfortable groove on their last couple of albums, Beach House decided to shake things up by parting ways with producer Chris Coady, who had worked with them on every record since Teen Dream, and working on their seventh record with Peter Kember of Spaceman 3 & Sonic Boom. The result of this shift is the sprawling adventure that is 7, imbued with a restless energy and excitement that marks a clear departure from the familiarity of their recent work and their most compelling record in years.
The Good: Beach House embrace a messiness more akin to coloring outside the lines than a complete deconstruction as the songs on 7 are as artfully crafted as always. A newfound clarity in Victoria Legrand’s vocals and storytelling imbues the record with an engrossing immediacy. Filled with sharp bursts of noise, sprawling distortion, hypnotic looped vocals, and crisp, driving beats, 7 finds the band taking risks and unlearning the parameters they had set for themselves to craft their most adventurous record yet.
The Bad: There’s so much variety throughout the album that when it settles into complacency towards the last couple of songs, it’s a noticeable comedown from the initial thrill. Ultimately, the album’s peaks are so engrossing that the risks they take seem more than bold enough for one of the few indie rock bands to still headline festivals in 2018.
The Verdict: 7 is a lush record that grabs you from the onset and contains tremendous depth beyond the surface. Not quite a full rebirth, the band feel free to indulge their experimental inclinations and loosen up, filling the record with a bright spark that makes it as exciting to listen to as it must have been to make. It’s impressive enough for the dream pop duo to keep making some of the best songs of their career seven albums in, when most bands would be well past their peak. By retooling their sound and shaking off any complacency that may have settled in, Beach House make their claim as one of the preeminent indie rock bands of the decade.
Essential Tracks: “Lemon Glow”, “Drunk in L.A.”, and “Pay No Mind”