Sound on Sound Review: Beach House

Cocooning ethereal ambience

At 9:45pm, exactly a half hour after Beach House’s slated start time on the Dragon’s Lair main stage Saturday night, the quiet drum intro and shimmering guitar line of “Wild” finally began.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

It took until the last of the opener petering out before any light graced the stage, but then, suddenly: Vocalist and keyboardist Victoria Legrand, multi-instrumentalist Alex Scally, and two touring members illuminated by a backdrop of glimmering lights. Of course it was mocked up to look like stars that read “Welcome to Beach House.”

Across the Baltimore duo’s six albums there’s been no straying from the perfected aesthetic of intergalactic organ-synth lullabies. From 2006’s self-titled to 2015’s Thank Your Lucky Stars, the sound has thickened, grown more polished. Yet Beach House remains rooted in the ethereal, the sort of music that doesn’t sit with you but invites you to float instead.

In a seamless 70-minute set, each song bled into another. The less-refined melancholy of “Master of None” from the debut slid easily between Bloom’s spookier “New Year” and stirring “Wishes.” Banter stayed light, aside from a reminder to vote and the occasional thanks.

The final succession, Depression Cherry’s organ-driven and abstract “Sparks” into Bloom’s heartbroken “Myth” and Teen Dream’s hopeful, lovesick “10 Mile Stereo,” played flawlessly. Mellow in live performance, Legrand’s husky, velvety voice breathes new life into the songs’ dreaminess. Beach House emphasizes craft, the hugeness and singularity of its astral sound consuming the listener instead of the other way around.

As closer “10 Mile Stereo” trailed off into an ambient explosion, crushing sound and flashing strobe lights continuing after the song had broken apart, it felt like a rude expulsion after an immersive hour in the hypnotic cocoon called Beach House.

Check out our daily Sound on Sound coverage with previews, reviews, interviews, photos, and more.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Beach House
Beach House Storms the Moody
Beach House Storms the Moody
Neo-gothic atmospherics come on like a hurricane

Abby Johnston, Aug. 1, 2018

Beach House’s Spring Party Blowout
Beach House’s Spring Party Blowout
Beyond the stars on sound and vision

Abby Johnston, April 12, 2016

More by Libby Webster
ACL Live Review: Nilüfer Yanya
Nilüfer Yanya
English singer-guitarist animates acclaimed Miss Universe

Oct. 7, 2019

ACL Live Review: Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish
Superstar teen proves she should’ve been a headliner

Oct. 6, 2019


Beach House, Sound On Sound 2016, Victoria Legrand, Alex Scully

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle