Celestial, sonic reverie constitutes the allure of Beach House. For the duo, melodies and diction serve as the mere context in which their music thrives, but the real lifeblood and heart of their records is cinematic luster.
The lyrics “out in the summer sun” unfurl at the introduction of their latest album Once Twice Melody. Bliss hums in the onset, with violins and thrushes of star-lit harmonies from lead vocalist Victoria Legrand, two themes that unite the following ten ballads. That record wasn’t alone in its sonic structure, either. Search the earlier troves of the band’s music, and a core mold comes to the surface.
Teen Dream, Beach House’s third album, starts with visions of an oasis-born child, with metallics strewn in their hair and eccentricity composing their character. Narratives across the 2010 album — and the seven other LPs from the band — are diverse and dissimilar, but the music itself is all sensual and substantive.
It is because of this strict construct, an adherence to the blend of varied fiction with decadent electronics, that Become, Beach House’s latest release, stands out as a career turn for the duo. For the first time in their career — albeit on an EP, not an album — Beach House dares to unite instead of divide the sonic and the melodic.
Released earlier this month, the duo branded Become as the B-sides unfit for their previous album. In their own words, the five anthems lived in another realm than Once Twice Melody, at an obscure direction from which their music could not continue. Listen to this so-called collection of far-out ballads, however, and one will unearth an environment fated for much more than the archives.
Become defines itself with fabled stories and allied music. Instead of B-sides, the EP should claim the title of an artifact; it illuminates the hidden chronicles behind Beach House’s veil. Without the defense of sound at the center, the band unites several soft-lit tales under one written and sonic narrative — an endeavor seldom seen in its career.
Flawed but still beautiful, Become retains the dazzled essence of the duet with enchanted lullabies and sensational finales. But rather than switching from whimsical anecdotes to somber fiction without reason, listeners witness its melodies evolve into cohesive fantasies.
“American Daughter,” the ambient introduction, confronts this shift within the first minute of the record. Beach House locates themselves unreluctantly at the forefront of romance. As the chorus echoes “So I tried harder/ To forget her,” the band rids themselves of their once fond role as the cold but observant outlier. Transient notes on the outside world do not exist within the world of Become — this record is about first-hand trials and tribulations.
Chimerical in narrative, the ballad billows with visions of an unattainable lover, some arcane and enchanted woman who lives underwater. But does she actually exist? Beach House ventures this fear, as the outro concludes she could be lost within macabre dreams. Three tracks later, however, the same lover resurfaces.
Her existence materializes rather than fades on the cosmic “Black Magic,” where the duo obtains a much firmer hold on her character. Not some chimera, but this time an intimate confidante, she uncovers secrets about herself amid fuzzed-out acoustics and reverb.
With these two chorales — one at the start and another at the end of the EP — Beach House outlines the core thesis of Become, bristled with luxurious outros and romantic aesthetics. To connect the narrative, the band nestles another love-ridden ballad in the middle of the record.
Delusions about affection come dressed in velvet electronics on the aforementioned “American Daughter,” but on “Holiday House,” the sentiments are less than saccharine. Violins adorn the verses in sober blue, an emotion unforeseen for the release thus far. Solemn in tone, the ballad contrasts the frustration of earlier anthems with faint self-reflection.
Instead of hostile resentment for the crushes and ached-after friends who denied their love, Beach House commemorates them with mature consideration. The chimerical women and lost friends who cut the duo out are not viewed as foes to loathe in this anthem, but rather “sweet little runaways” who lost their route in life.
It’s only after one swallows this belief, after one chooses to release all of their bitterness towards the unaffected and unattainable, that true solace can move in. With Become, this tender truth — exhibited from one narrative — is what Beach House calls on their listeners to embrace and understand.