Seven albums into their discography, Beach House continue to explore their distinctive style on their latest record, 7. Prior to this, the dream-pop duo has produced blissful albums such as the excellent Teen Dream and Bloom; two records that perfectly blended lavish soundscapes and atmosphere with memorable pop melodies and wistful songwriting. The singles preceding this new record seemed to imply a skin-shedding change of direction for the band, breaking free of their self-imposed restraints and diving headfirst into a new realm of excitingly lush sounds. The album itself, however, is not such a drastic shift.
Opening with the dramatic ‘Dark Spring’, the track forms an intoxicating and immediate grip on the listener with its aggressive percussion and fast tempo; two elements that seem to set 7 apart from the duo’s previous work instantly. After this, however, the album ebbs and flows between experimentalism and complacency – as though, no matter how hard they try, Beach House still find themselves somewhat locked in to their pre-established sound. Although it features some standout tracks, such as the dazzling ‘Drunk in LA’ and the hypnotic ‘Black Car’, 7 demonstrates a constant battle between restrictions and breaking free. Had the duo embraced the subversive aggressiveness of tracks such as the opener, and the sprawling single ‘Dive’, 7 could have been a bold new direction - instead, while it is admittedly very solid, it merely sounds like a hint at greater things yet to come.