Formed in 2004 when Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand—both of whom had just recently graduated college—found themselves in different bands in the Baltimore indie rock scene (Baltimore has spawned Dan Deacon, Ponytail, Future Islands and more). After playing together in a different band that siphoned off members, it eventually just became the two of them writing songs on an organ and a guitar. Eventually, they’d have a live drummer, but it’s remained Legrand and Scally since the beginning.

It’s hard to peg Beach House to a genre beyond that big nebulous “indie rock,” but after 15 years and seven releases, they are a genre unto themselves. Because they haven’t expanded their palette that much, the beauty of the Beach House catalog is tracking how they recontextualized their sound again and again, adding more drums, making the songs faster and shinier, and moving back again to their lo-fi sound. While their albums all sound similar, they all stand as unique entities. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2006 to critical acclaim and has been followed by Devotion in 2008, Teen Dream in 2010, Bloom in 2012, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars in 2015, and B-sides and Rarities in 2017.

Legrand’s vocals to 1980s psychedelic rock vocalist Kendra Smith of the band Opal. The group’s influences include This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins, The Zombies, Brian Wilson, Françoise Hardy, Neil Young, Big Star,and Chris Bell.

Last week, Beach House dropped “Lemon Glow,” the lead single from their upcoming seventh album. It’s due out later this spring—no hard date has been announce yet—but this new single is a perfect appetite whetted. Build on a gauzy drum and organ figure, it’s cut with Legrand’s lush vocals and occasional searing blasts of guitar from Scally. Turn the lights down low, indeed. This vaulted to the top of our most anticipated album of 2018 list in four minutes and five seconds.

Beach House

Recorded in 2 days, Beach House’s debut LP is a lo-fi mirage, the scrappiest version of an album that can be described as so lush you could sleep on it. The album was the culmination of a couple years of experimentation and live shows. “Apple Orchard” is the song that ran through MP3 blogs, but for my money “House on the Hill” is the album’s centerpiece.

producing music composed largely of organ, programmed drums, and slide guitar. Of the origins of the band name, Scally said: “We’d been writing music, and we had all these songs, and then there was that moment where you say ‘what do we call ourselves?’ We tried to intellectualize it, and it didn’t work. There were different plant-names, Wisteria, that kind of thing. Stupid stuff. But, once we stopped trying, it just came out, it just happened. And it just seemed perfect.” In an interview with Pitchfork, Legrand addressed their two member status; “[I]t’s a way to challenge ourselves: What do you do when it’s just the two of you… [O]ne of the reasons this has been such a fulfilling experience for me is that with two people, it’s so much easier to achieve things that feel exciting and new.”

Released October 2006 through Carpark Records the band’s self-titled debut album, Beach House,

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Released 10 years ago on February 26th, 2008, Beach House’s second album Devotion marks the point where Beach House found their sound. Singer Victoria Legrand and her musical partner, guitarist and keyboardist Alex Scally, have traveled far since then. Later albums, like 2015’s gorgeous Depression Cherry, have made them one of the most beloved indie acts of their generation. But this one stands alone as a moment of discovery. It felt then and feels now like a glimpse of a private world. A secret worth treasuring.

It was received with similar acclaim and was included in Best Albums of 2008 list. On October 21, 2008, the group released the single “Used to Be”Beach House also recorded a cover of Queen’s “Play the Game” release of the Red Hot Organization’s 2009 compilation, Dark Was The Night.

In 2009, Legrand provided backing vocals on the song “Two Weeks” by the indie rock band Grizzly Bear. She later collaborated with the band again by providing vocals to “Slow Life”, the band’s contribution to the soundtrack for the film Twilight: New Moon.

Teen Dream

If Devotion is the album that put Beach House on every indie fan’s radar and represented the first appearance of the Beach House we know now, Teen Dream was the one that put them in the first two lines of festival lineups.

The duo’s “dynamic and intense” third album, was released on Sub Pop Records.  After touring Devotion for close to two years—and writing on the road, as “Norway” debuted during promotion of the album—the band worked with producer Chris Coady for the first time, and suddenly the shimmery, beautiful organ sounds became even more shimmery and beautiful. 

Teen Dream features the lynchpins of the Beach House live show, like “Zebra” and “Take Care.” . Teen Dream did little to alter Beach House’s core characteristics– slow-motion beats layered with hazy keyboard drones, rippling guitar figures, and Victoria Legrand’s melancholic melodies– but greatly amplified them to the point of redefining the band’s essence, from that of introverted knee-gazers into an assured, emotionally assertive force.  Legrand stated: “I see this as just another step in a direction. I would not want to say that 2010 will be our year, necessarily, I hope it’s just another year in which we do good work. I don’t want to be defined by this year, I want it to just be a beginning.

While Beach House have a reputation, in their music at least, of being pretty serious, anyone who’s been to a live show knows that they’re really funny and personable during the in-between song banter. They also sometimes cover songs you wouldn’t expect them to cover. Case-in-point: They played a sinister, amazing cover of Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade” at festival spots in 2010. My favorite part of this cover is that some media outlet (I can’t find this now, but if someone could help me out @ me) interviewed them at the time about “their new song about lemons” and they had to explain it was a Gucci Mane cover. It’s impossible to imagine someone interviewing Beach House in 2018 not knowing Gucci Mane.


Bloom shot Beach House to the stratosphere; it delivered on all the sonics of Teen Dream, and even debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard charts. Listening to this album is like riding a horse into an infinite vista, where you will meet everyone you’ve ever loved. Released on March 7th, 2012 the band streamed a new song, “Myth”, from their website. The album Bloom was released on May 15th, 2012 via Sub Pop Records. A second song from the album, “Lazuli”, was released. The band released a short film, Forever Still, The film, directed by the band and Max Goldman, was inspired by Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii and features the band performing songs from Bloom at various sites around Tornillo, Texas, where the album was recorded. The idea for the film came from the band’s desire to make quality promotional content they could control artistically: “We had previously been involved in too many live sessions, radio tapings, photo shoots, etc., where the outcome was far below our personal artistic standards.

We also felt a need to distance ourselves from the ‘content’ culture of the internet that rewards quantity over quality and shock over nuance.

Depression Cherry & Thank Your Lucky Stars

In August 2015, Beach House released their fifth LP, Depression Cherry which they promoted the usual ways, by doing tons of interviews, appearing on late night TV and releasing singles. It had a bunch of songs that felt of a piece with Bloom—the highlight being “Sparks.” A month after Depression Cherry came out, the band surprise dropped another album, Thank Your Lucky Stars, a darker, more lo-fi album—in some ways, it’s the spiritual sequel to Devotion—that they didn’t want to have fall into the “traditional” album cycle of promotion. As a set, the albums are a good encapsulation of everything Beach House had done leading up to 2015; the lo-fi, the widescreen and everything in between.

The album was released on August 28th via Sub Pop Records (on Bella Union in the UK)  and the band announced a world tour in support. Talking of the direction of the new album, the band said “In general, this record shows a return to simplicity, with songs structured around a melody and a few instruments, with live drums playing a far lesser role. With the growing success of Teen Dream and Bloom, the larger stages and bigger rooms naturally drove us towards a louder, more aggressive place; a place farther from our natural tendencies. Here, we continue to let ourselves evolve while fully ignoring the commercial context in which we exist.”.

B-Sides & Rarities

Compilations of B-sides and rarities are often either released at the end of a long career as a vault clearing, or as a way for a band to reset after a long creative period. In Beach House’s case, this release feels like the latter, a way for them to put a capstone on their last six albums, as they look forward to whatever is next. Like, maybe a new album in 2018. The fun highlights here are the remixes, because you don’t realize how malleable Beach House songs are until you hear them fussed up.

The compilation, B-Sides and Rarities, was eventually released on June 30th, 2017, and was supported by a new song, “Chariot”, which served as the lead single of the compilation and one of the two previously unreleased songs on it.


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