The five songs on Become, the new EP Beach House released for Record Store Day that is now available across digital platforms, clearly belong in the same universe as the duo’s 2022 album Once Twice Melody. They’re all lifted from the same sessions, and at one point, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally felt like they created their own little world. “To us, they are all kind of scuzzy and spacious, and live in the spirit realm,” they wrote, which, typical sonic signifiers aside, seems like the only relevant precondition for being included in the Beach House canon. They work their magic in the exact ways you expect them to, but they also manage to wander far from the easily identifiable. The group rolled out Once Twice Melody in four chapters over several months, and as a late addition to the saga, Become does not offer further context or clarity. It doesn’t fold these chapters into any kind of neat story, and nor does it venture beyond the musical experiments they already showcased on that sprawling LP. But yes, it exists in the same realm, providing an opportunity to step back into it and take pleasure in that old, placeless yearning.
Any fan of Once Twice Melody can only be glad Beach House chose to shine a light into these previously hidden corners, even if none of them hold a candle to the record’s most memorable highlights. Separated from while emulating its epic sheen, these songs feel like a generous offering with little to prove and plenty to enjoy, and whatever lack of definition or sense of direction turns out to be part of the charm. Opener ‘American Daughter’ conjures the band’s signature dreaminess but seems to work backwards from it, picking up steam and laying out foggy visions of a girl before Legrand even utters the words “dreamt about her.” It’s a compelling song about the fragments of memory that burn brighter in the effort to forget, and as it keeps gathering momentum, the certainty of the singer’s affirmation – “To know her/ Is to love her” – is clouded by an image that’s fading away, veering into abstraction and even cliché.
‘Black Magic’ revolves around a similar idea but adds less heft to the swirl. “It’s strange and makes you wonder,” Legrand sings over enchanting guitars that belie a great emptiness, never quite naming the thing or “her.” It floats in a familiar fashion that doesn’t ask much of you but to linger a bit, maybe try and fill in the gaps. The more time you spend with them, the more the tracks seem to complement each other: ‘Devil’s Pool’ is even more languid and distant, but it’s paired with an endearing melody that prevents the wistfulness from becoming unbearable, while ‘Holiday House’ is sturdier and wide-eyed. There are echoes of Once Twice Melody‘s ‘Superstar’ and ‘Runaway’ in the latter song, but there’s something curious about its steady, unchanging pace, befitting a collection that keeps the engine running mostly by looping the past.
Beach House seem all too aware of this: “It’s not really where we are currently going, but it’s definitely somewhere we have been,” they said of Become. Shortcomings aside, it’s hard not to indulge and stay in that place for the little while it lasts, even if it begs a bigger question: Where are they currently going? There’s barely a hint in these songs, which at best serve as another reminder of what they’ve always done so remarkably well. “Love is like a fire/ Light it, it goes higher,” goes the title track; Become is Beach House just keeping hold of the torch.