An introspection into the band Beach House from a fan, and a review on “Lemon Glow”, their new single released on Valentine’s day this year.
I’ve been a devoted fan of Beach House for some years now. So it is always an exciting moment, sometimes even emotional when I find out there’s a new release by Victoria and Alex, the American duo from Baltimore. They are one of the most important modern references to the genre Dream Pop, a derivative of alternative rock that focuses on the importance of melodies mingled with a certain influence of psychedelic rock. For me, it all started back in 2014 when attending university in Segovia, an isolated, enchanting town located in central Spain. It was a place filled of very old streets, Romanic times architecture, small buildings with red tiled ceilings and small balconies. I remember several evenings where after class I would walk up to my house and smoke near an old forest accompanied by a close friend, all while the sun was setting on the mountains. We would then head back home and listen to the song “Silver Soul” by the Beach House in a playlist filled with other songs from “Teen Dream” and “Bloom”. My first sensation was the strong feeling of melancholy and a heartfelt sadness after hearing Victoria’s vocals. While looking out the window at the sun falling down on the horizon over the red-bricked ceilings, I started to really fall deep into this dream pop vibe. I can’t continue writing without mentioning their 2010 album Teen Dream. It’s important to recognize its hierarchy and significance for the band’s evolution and rise as had a lot of critical acclaim from music critics and was ranked by many magazines as one of the best albums of 2010. When asked if this was their breakout album, Victoria replied by saying that they both didn’t pay much attention to critics and that she didn’t want that year to define them, as they still had many more ideas in their creative minds.
The essence of Beach House lives through the melodic voice of Victoria but also rests upon the keyboards, string synthesizers and vintage organs used to create their distinctive sound. In an interview, Victoria has confessed her likeness for using electric organs and string machines. These types of vintage keyboards are responsible for creating the melancholic sound in most of their songs. An example is the Yamaha PS-20, the main touring keyboard used by the band in most of their shows. Many of the keyboards they use are from more than twenty years ago. In an interview a few years back, Alex claimed they had collected most of these keyboards and organs from different thrift stores, and that he finds at least one special sound that seduces him in each one of them.
A year later after getting into “Silver Soul”, it was during my exchange in Paris that I became even closer to Beach House. Right after the end of a serious relationship, while trying to cope with the anxiety of not being able to fix things, the album “Depression Cherry” served as the soundtrack to my loneliness and miserable evenings after class. I was trying to close a strong chapter in my head with a person I thought would be close to me for life and songs like “Levitation”, “Sparks”, “PPP” and “Wildflower” gave me both sad but hopeful thoughts at the same time, as if after all the suffering, there was a chance that things, in the end, would work out right. What also really caught me from this album was the complexity of the dream synths Beach House uses, and how they paint their gloomy lyrics and melodies with their obscure instrumentals.
Beach House released Lemon Glow on Valentine’s day of this year. Does that sound strange? To me it fits perfectly, it even makes complete sense, for a band whose essence lives in the sorrowful feeling of their melodies to choose this date to announce themselves to the public with new material. The new single resembles the band’s psychedelic, dark sound, with the same distortion and filters in their synthesizers they have us used to. This new song, however, has a more vivid and positive vibe as well as a faster pace than the usual. It doesn’t have the same depressing feeling of regret and sadness that I find in albums like “Teen Dream” or “Depression Cherry.” Maybe they’re going through a different phase as “Lemon Glow” focuses a lot on the psychedelic side of their sound as has small tints of Tame Impala and Animal Collective. It’s not as mellow as their previous work, it’s not so reminiscent of heartbreak. I’m intrigued to hear more from this new album, although now it seems this time it won’t be the soundtrack to lonely reflective evenings like it was before.
I can only assume Victoria and Alex are trying a slightly different page now, without changing the sound but changing the melodies. I’m always down for new music by Beach House, and I’m sure I’ll submerge and cherish this different phase just as I always enjoyed the others, in more depressing times.
- From Teen Dream: Silver soul, Walk in the Park, Real love.
- From Depression Cherry: PPP, Sparks, Levitation, 10,37, Wildflower, Space Song.