Listening to Beach House’s new extended play feels like being underwater or alone in space, in the best way possible. It was perfectly consistent with the dream-like sound of their older music, and subverts the typical structure of a song into something new. It isn’t quite an absence of structure, but it definitely is not typical.
The first song,“American Daughter,” has a really unique melody that clashes slightly with the instruments behind it and is very satisfying to listen to. The same simple vocal melody repeats for the first two minutes of the song, layered over synthesizer and electric guitar. There’s no clear distinction of chorus, verse or bridge. Rather than progressing with the traditional structure of a song, it moves through the building instruments that get fuller, busier and more tense. The soft, haunting vocals stay at the same low volume but the sound gets crowded as drums and additional guitars join.
Certain lines come back, but never exactly in the order they had been said or with exactly the same words. For example, the first group of lines “When I met her,/ knees together/ She held my head there/ underwater” becomes “We held our heads there,/ underwater” toward the end of the song. When the melody shifts, it’s only for a few moments and it’s only a slight tweak of the original melody that had been repeating. The repetition is enchanting and doesn’t get boring or annoying because the dimensions of the sound continually change behind the steady, echoing vocals, keeping it interesting and suspenseful.
Similarly, the title track “Become” pushes the listener’s analytic mind to connect different sections of the song by creating a sort of dialogue between them. As is typical of Beach House’s music, there are very few words in each song and each line is very concise. The lyrics are beautiful but very simple, for example: “Time goes by/ Don’t you cry/ Become light.” They’re made more complex as you start to hear these simple lines throughout the song being brought together in new arrangements, echoing each other, becoming a conversation. I really enjoyed hearing lyrics that feel isolated from each other brought together, all while the vocals stay low and steady and the instruments behind the voice continue to stack and grow.
Each of the five songs on the EP has very short, drawn-out lyrics with plenty of instrumental time and space between them for the listener to soak in each line. The EP is really cohesive, each song leading seamlessly into the next. It almost felt like one 24-minute song. It’s consistent and surprising at the same time. Each song fits with the rest of the album and none of them have any abrupt or extreme shifts within them, but subtle choices make each song unique and worth listening to carefully. It feels effortlessly beautiful and profound.
These five songs are from the session of the album the band released in Feb. 2022 called Once Twice Melody. The band said of the songs off the new EP: “We didn’t think they fit into the world of OTM, but later realized they fit in a little world of their own.” Listening to it feels like you’re in your own little world, too. This is the type of music that I would listen to while staring at the ceiling at 3 a.m. It’s very chill and not as dramatic as some of their most popular songs like “Silver Soul.” It’s perfect to listen to when you’re in the right mood and stretches how much a musician can say with very few words.
Rachel Cannata is a sophomore in the Hotel School. She can be reached at [email protected]