It’s easy to understand why Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally don’t like people saying their albums all sound the same. Who wants to be told they’ve spent a decade running on the spot? And, of course, their albums don’t all sound the same. Just very similar. Take organ, synthesisers, some spidery guitar patterns, add Legrand’s blank vocals, some drums, and then locate a place where you can see the Velvet Underground in one direction and shoegaze bands in the other, and you’ve pretty much got your Beach House record.
The skill lies in making seven albums of, shall we say, a certain sonic consistency and not getting boring, which is what Beach House have managed. As with adding different herbs and spices to a favourite recipe to keep it interesting, Beach House add details that make the songs transcend formula. Pay No Mind is a song so sparse it’s barely there, but the bassy buzz of synthesiser, the gently Factory-esque guitar shading, and the double tracking of Legrand’s voice at crucial moments, give it a heft its bare bones could never achieve. Girl of the Year has a grandeur that’s genuinely stirring, and a breadth to its mix that makes one want to bathe in it.
A comparison of Legrand’s voice to the first Beach House album suggests her singing has got yet more affectless with the passing years: unless you’re concentrating like an old Beano character, with steam coming out of your ears, it’s almost impossible to hear any actual lyrics. But that’s a minor gripe: the sounds are glorious, and Beach House don’t need to tear up their own rulebook after each album.