Beach House over its last two records cemented its reputation as an innovative and quirky, elegant and dreamlike indie pop duo. The act’s records seemed to get increasingly better up to the point of those two great albums. However, that, as for any band, makes it difficult to follow, to reinvent oneself or produce music equally as awe inspiring.
The problem is there is no reinvention, only attempts to replicate the sound to the point of no return. Beach House’s 5th long player starts slowly, almost too slowly. It doesn’t quite unfurl as you might hope, and feels a tad laboured, which isn’t a good start. It is obviously the band’s distinctive sound but somehow lacks their magic. It results as feeling like rather a dull opening. Third track ‘Space Song’ captures something more like the old gem, but it still feels a little short of their previous mark. Perhaps having such a distinctive sound and the act feeling the need to replicate its past glories has been a pressure too much when approaching the need or desire to make a new record. In all honesty, it feels a little more like a ‘need’ than a ‘desire’ to create these 9 songs here. There is a definite lack of energy, of passion in these songs. It is the quality of the songs that lets us down here. It’s odd, because given the past records, which are hard not to hark back to, it feels strange to see how empty the band now sounds. Their essence gone, the songs are empty vessels. The sound is as familiar as ever, it’s just a shame the songs aren’t there this time around.
Whatever the reason, it’s a slump, and perhaps the band will find fresh inspiration next time around. It certainly needs a fresh perspective, as the sound, so crisp once, now sounds too tired. It never really gets going, and this is a band that has previously been more than capable of making those tiny little hairs on the body stand up to attention.
5 albums in, it seems Beach House, despite some lovely moments here, are in dire need of reinventing their wheel, and coming back with something that shows their abilities lie not only in their own sound, but the songs that in the past fitted it so well. When it comes down to it, we all want to hear good songs. There simply aren’t enough across these nine tracks.
Words: Dominic Stevenson