WHEN is a number just a number and when is it much more? Seven is a mystical digit sometimes representing perfection and it appears in grand notions like Seventh Heaven or the Seven Seas. In the case of Beach House’s “7,” it also refers to Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s seventh full-length album, with their joint output at 77 songs and the last song on the record 7 minutes long.
Furthermore, the band also notes the visual similarity between one and seven, considering the latter as an ideal opportunity for a career restart. And what an entirely propitious launch of a new phase it is.
Opener “Dark Spring” has a Cure-like opening drum fill and just when its psychedelic vibes are about to pull you under, the brightness of the refrain brings light. “Dive” is similarly bipolar, with a dreamy start and a manic conclusion, while ballad “Pay No Mind” is defined by its drums’ slow thump that anchors the etherealness of the rest of the track.
“L’Inconnue” is partly in French, totally eerie and hints at what Cocteau Twins might sound like with Legrand’s contralto instead of Liz Fraser’s soprano.
Legrand and Scally also credit the advantages of being able to work in their new home studio, and with producer Peter Kember (a.k.a. Sonic Boom) and drummer James Barone for some of the steps forward. If anything, “7” proves that even after over 13 years together, Beach House is not merely playing by numbers.
All in all, “7” distills the best of Beach House so far, searches far and wide for new elements and probes fresh depths and elevations and — to put a number on it — cranks them up to 11. (AP)