Beach House have spent the last decade-plus making music that hums with feverish intensity even at its most quiet. The Baltimore duo’s albums inspire cult-like devotion from fans, which makes sense: Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally are less a band than a two-person mystical order, endlessly searching for new secrets in the same sacred texts, from Cocteau Twins to the Beach Boys. It’s a subtle sound, better suited for insomniac nights than festival stages, but don’t let that lull you into missing the point. Almost no indie-rock acts that debuted in the 2000s have made it to the present day with fewer missteps.
2015’s Depression Cherry was Beach House’s lushest album to date, raising the question of how they could possibly top it, short of tapping a team of quantum scientists to develop even headier reverb pedals. 7, which arrives after the understated/underrated Depression Cherry companion piece Thank Your Lucky Stars and a 2017 B-sides set, is the duo’s first attempt since then to push their sound forward. The lead single, “Lemon Glow,” signaled that Legrand and Scally were serious about evolving. With its synths pulsing in bold, outrageous color, it’s a radical blast of psychedelic pop bliss.
The rest of 7 isn’t quite that wild, but it’s just as thrilling. This is the least introverted record Beach House have ever made; it’ll still blow your mind with candles lit and headphones on, but it’s the first time they’ve sounded like a band you might want to hear at a party with more than one guest. Some of the credit goes to co-producer Pete Kember of Spacemen 3, who’s polished every surface to a fresh gleam, but mostly it’s about Legrand and Scally’s confidence in their own powers. “Black Car” and “Drunk in LA” revel in their expansive melodies. “Pay No Mind” and “Lose Your Smile” burn so slow and majestic, they are practically power ballads. These are big songs, full of wonder, and Beach House know it. Seven albums in, they’re at the start of something new.