mon 26/02/2024

Reissue CDs Weekly: Beach House | reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: Beach House

Reissue CDs Weekly: Beach House

Compilation of the meta-shoegazers may as well be a new album

Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally aka Beach House: a more assured approach to presenting their sound over time

From beginning to end, B​-​Sides and Rarities plays through like a regular album; as though it collects a series of tracks recorded where a cohesive release with a flow was the goal. Yet this 14-cut collection is a compilation with its earliest selection from 2005, the year Beach House formed.

Its most recent tracks are from the sessions which resulted in the two 2015 albums Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars. It doesn’t matter that the 2005 track , “Rain in Numbers”, is skeletal and of demo quality – it is of a piece with its companions.

What this says about Beach House – Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally – is not clear-cut. That they had hit on their sound from the beginning is clear. It also confirms that, despite periodic shifts towards increased sparseness or impressionism, their instantly recognisable musical sigh is one they are comfortable with and one from which they are unlikely to deviate. Supporting this surmise, Beach House say the previously unheard outtake “Equal Mind” “was recorded during the Bloom [their 2012 album] session, but we left it off the record after realizing it had the exact same tempo as [the album’s] ‘Other People’.”

Beach House B​-​Sides and RaritiesAt its core, Legrand and Scally have formulated an approach which is equal parts Cocteau Twins, the desolate side of third album Big Star, second and third album Slowdive, and “I'm Waiting for the Day”/“Surf’s Up” Brian Wilson. Legrand’s always-defeated voice is layered onto or buried within the resulting mist.

Meta-shoegazers, Beach House have issued six albums to date (though Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars can be seen as parts one and two of the same album). B​-​Sides and Rarities mops up all their non-album compositions from singles and compilations, outtakes, remixes and the 2005 demo.

The change which has come about over time is a more assured approach to presenting their sound. Here, a newly remixed “White Moon”, first heard on 2010 EP recorded for iTunes, is more gossamer and less overtly poppy (the vocal line has now been brought back into the mix) than the original version – these two are the same recordings, but different mixes. “Since that [the 2010 version] was recorded and mixed very hastily, we have remixed it to better match our current aesthetics,” Legrand and Scally say of the new, reconfigured “White Moon”.

With this, Beach House confirm they see their oeuvre as a single entity, one for which standard notions of artistic development or progression are moot. Continual honing is the objective. Consequently, the intriguing B​-​Sides and Rarities may as well be treated as their new album, the follow up to Thank Your Lucky Stars.

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters