Beach House’s music has always been enveloping – regardless of the despair imbued in their words, there is an effortless and irresistible warmth in their sprawling synth plateau. The duo twirl the faded DNA of the Cocteau Twins into something wistful; dream pop for the millennial generation that will never quite have what they want. Their decision to release a collection of B-sides and rarities this year feels timely, after a prolific nine years. Across these fourteen lost tracks, the duo strip down their iconic synthesiser slowmo drones to reveal their stoic penchant for the dramatic is always meticulous.
Vocalist Victoria Legrand’s lyrical frame throughout is panoramic; employing ambiguity as purposeful as it is beautiful. Legrand refuses to be flippant when singing of love; using the word sparingly, instead choosing to wallow in its deep shades and utter profundities (“The beast he comes to you, a hunter for a lonely heart”). Unreleased track ‘Chariot’ is a majestic introduction, splattered with cryptic lamentations upon marital rituals in shimmering minimalism. Ethereal number ‘I Do Not Care For the Winter Sun’ drives on Alex Scally’s wiry guitar as Legrand profoundly paints a despondent emotional canvas. ‘Saturn Song’ furthers this virtuosity, a tinkering of loneliness spinning through a dizzying celestial atmosphere.
The galaxial background to this collection does however occasionally slip into a gear that almost feels automatic, as synth leads and drum machine shakers become irritatingly familiar. Some tracks scattered throughout don’t reach more than curiosities, as the tedious piano balladry of ‘The Arrangement’ and very literally sluggish Cough Syrup remix of ‘10 Mile Stereo’ are fatiguing. To many however, what is truly disappointing is that these rough spots are not truly rough. Rather, these are perfectionist throwaways – gorgeous in their own right, but firm in the Beach House mission statement: “your state of infinity.”