Where many purveyors of psychedelic music engulf themselves in indulgent meanderings, Beach House keeps the 11 tracks from their seventh album, the aptly titled 7, taut and lean. The duo never buries their music beneath layers of synthesizers, nor do they lose themselves in fussy walls of sound, always keeping their feet firmly on the backbeat’s terra firma.
7 kicks off with “Dark Spring,” whose industrial-strength drumbeat solidly underpins Victoria Legrand’s spectral vocals. Alex Scally pulls gnarled string bending out of his Stratocaster against the electronic hum of the track’s synths—the sound of past and present colliding. Likewise, the motorik beat that drives lead single “Lemon Glow” anchors the atmospheric synths and hazy vocals. Beach House sounds like a well-oiled machine throughout 7, which doesn’t charge with furious energy, but rolls steadily.
The album’s droning synths and deadpan vocals evoke the Jesus and Mary Chain’s feedback-drenched rock. But where the Reid brothers’ music is often aggressive, Beach House’s is eerie and peacefully immersive, as on the melancholic “L’inconnue,” with its echoing melodies that creep over the intro’s drum-less terrain. 7 is a post-party album, a gentle, introspective comedown after a night of extroverted madness: The metronomic beat of “Drunk in LA” shimmers like neon lights fading in and out of sight.
As the album moves through its tracklist, the repetitive beats and unwavering pulse become hypnotic in their persistence. But while the music is deeply layered, it’s never dense or impenetrable. Rock n’ roll is body music, and like the best electronic music, it aims for the gut. But even at their liveliest, the songs on 7 are designed for the head—a shot straight to the mind.