Legendary dream pop duo Beach House, made up of vocalist/keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally, released their extended play “Become” on April 28. Initially released as a physical format first in collaboration with Record Store Day on April 22, the extended play was then released for streaming six days later.
In a statement by Legrand and Scally, the 24-minute-long extended play was described as a “collection of 5 songs from the Once Twice Melody sessions” that didn’t “fit in the world of OTM, but … in a little world of their own.”
“Not really where [they] are currently going, but … definitely somewhere [they] have been” and thus a recognized detour from their intended musical progression, “Become” makes use of similar soundscapes yet feels less restrained emotionally.
The song most emblematic of this sound is the second track, the tender “Devil’s Pool.” A callback to their earlier work, the song uses a drum loop for its rhythm, which kicks off the song and is soon joined by a heavily filtered synth. After around 18 seconds, some simple acoustic guitar strums come in, carrying the song into the commencement of Legrand’s vocals. In tandem with a slow lead, bathed in effects — vibrato, reverb, etc. — she starts the song off with, “[n]ever expected too much / We just fell out of touch.” Melancholic, reserved, and speaking in retrospect about a past lover, these lyrics provide a concise introduction to Beach House for any first time listener.
The second verse starts the divergence from what is expected from the band, “[y]ou hide the hospital bills / And at night, I see pills / They go blue, white and red / They go straight to your head.” An allusion either to the personal quality of the U.S. healthcare system or the substance abuse issues that the former has helped perpetuate, the lyrics are rawer than listeners of Beach House may expect.
The chorus continues this rawness, though from a more emotional aspect, with, “[i]n a devil’s pool / You don’t know the rules / You’re just somebody’s fool / But I love you.” Furthering the theme of addiction and giving it a name, the chorus describes the helplessness those swimming it feel. Given a structure that helps put them in inequitable and unsustainable situations like addiction, medical debt, etc. and provides no way out, one feels almost that they are being played against, hence the name “devil’s pool.” Irreverent of how weak this unamed lover may feel or be perceived, Legrand claims her love for them outright — something rare for Beach House to do.
“Devil’s Pool” then blends into a dreamy cycle of post-chorus, refrain, repeat that is seasoned with layers of harmonies and intermittent musical accents. With the refrain’s, “[i]t’s okay, darling / You’re just too far away for talking,” Legrand repeats her understanding of this lover’s situation, metaphorizing both their emotional distance, caused by the “devil’s pool[‘s]” erosion of their spirit, and their usage of the pills that “go blue, white and red” with calling them “too far away for talking.” Per usual, Legrand conveys more emotionally than what is said through her words, providing solace for a lover that may feel estranged from society — one where no one is supposed to fail.
Though “Become” being 13 tracks and an hour shorter than “Once Twice Melody” may introduce a positive bias for the former due to its brevity naturally leaving fans wanting more, “Become” feels fresher and more creative. A common critique of Beach House is that their music has not changed much over their nearly 20 year and eight studio album long career, so one would think that an infusion of the new or simply less frequented, like the rawer, more blatant lyricism of “Devil’s Pool,” would do them well.
Existing in familiar soundscapes, “Become” may not represent the sound that Beach House will pursue in the future. However, it at least provides listeners with temporary reprieve as they wait for their next album and signifies the approach the duo could take lyrically.
June Min is an Arts & Entertainment Intern for the spring 2023 quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.