7 is the seventh album from beloved Baltimore indie duo Beach House. 7 supposedly puts a bookend on the band’s previous output, starting anew. The new refreshed Beach House won’t shock you with a change-up of style so much; instead 7 sees a looser style for the band with denser instrumentation and a relaxed attitude that is prevalent throughout the album.
7 is dreamy and hallucinogenic; it’s an extremely visual album. You don’t need music videos to see how the band pictured 7. It brings up images of lights calling out in the dark, like floating around in a void. It’s a very comforting listen and, whilst there is a gloominess in the music, it’s outweighed by the band’s warmth.
The main influences behind the writing of 7 were, as the band put it, “The societal insanity of 2016-17”. 7 doesn’t reflect this influence so much in sound, it’s more the calming down we all need. Single and opener ‘Dark Spring’ sets the tone for the rest of the album. Its balance of gritty and airy synthesizers with a bright vocal which lights up the song.
While these themes are what I really love about the album, 7 doesn’t really present anything new throughout. The songs mesh into one and whilst the record is brilliant at being atmospheric, you want something to hold onto in the music. The band made the record wanting it to feel organic and not overproduced. However, the lack of production is clear early on, and the songs do start to suffer and the overall experience becomes slightly stale. The album doesn’t really change pace from ‘Dark Spring’ and, with the exception of a few stand out songs, the rest get a little lost along the way.
‘Drunk in LA’ brings the sound of 7 into focus. It blends all the atmospheric elements and focuses them into a strong and powerful vocal and synth song. The grinding guitars which are just under the surface give the song a huge amount of tension, one that’s only released when Alex Scally takes the mic. ‘Girl of The Year’ is another great moment. It’s a genuinely powerful song that’s sentimental to the point of sounding quite uplifting. ‘Lose Your Smile’ is a welcome break to an acoustic guitar-led track. There’s a very clear influence of My Bloody Valentine throughout the record that can be heard very prominently in the sliding guitars and vocal production of the song.
For me, 7 is quite a mixed bag. There are elements and songs I really love about the album. Its lack of something particularly grabbing seems to be what Beach House were aiming for, opting for a moodier, more atmospheric album. When the album’s focussed it works very well and engages the listener, however, 7 doesn’t push forward and sadly the elements that are initially great about the album don’t develop, making the overall experience slightly lacklustre.