Beach House present a comprehensive selection of their B-sides and rare tracks in one handy compilation, with recordings that stretch from 2005 to 2015. Treats include a surprising cover of Queen’s ‘Play The Game’ and a slowed down ‘Cough Syrup Remix’ of ‘10 Mile Stereo’, as well as tracks that have been newly mixed and mastered to suit this release. B-Sides and Rarities is out on Bella Union.
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A self-acknowledged serving of mediocrity from the most emotionally milquetoast band of all time? Don’t mind if I do. Few bands can make me want to cry as soon as I hear a song of theirs open, and boring old Beach House do it every time. This collection of discarded tunes is no less beautiful than usual, offering cut tunes that beam as bright as the ones ‘Bloom’, along with pre-beautified versions of finished songs and slow covers of fast songs.
Even at their more freewheeling, Beach House have proved themselves obsessed with pouring over the details, with the more low-key ‘Depression Cherry’ and ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ opening to scorchers. It’s no surprise that their literal b-sides album comes frontloaded with “Chariot”, a methodologically evolving slice of dream pop whose chords churn like a waterwheel, giving way to weighty vocal harmonies under a near-industrial strength beat. The call-and-response riffs of “Baby” are arguably as catchy as anything the band have made, sounding like the surfy ‘Devotion’ if it was bolstered by a widescreen production. It’s obvious that b-side is a pretty arbitrary term for a band whose songs all sound, quite wonderfully, like this.
The record does fluctuate out of a proper album design, largely in service of early edits and iTunes versions of old cuts -- three from ‘Teen Dream’ appear with sparser arrangements and clunkier lyrics, suggesting that the newer songs songs Beach House have developed transitioned from their older, clunkier sound into their modern panorama. The crunchy, distorted guitar of “Used To Be” mixes with xylophone with a kind of never-before-seen comedic juxtaposition.
Speaking of jokes: “Play the Game”. If you like Queen, you might hate this iteration, slowed to a sprinkler-beat -- like everything Beach House do, I can’t help but find it charming. The same can be said of any audacious thing they do, like “Rain In Numbers”, a lo-fi cut of one of their very first songs -- that sounds exactly like a Coldplay song. It’s a gorgeous tune, though, and that’s how I feel about this bloody band -- throw them all the shade you want, but everything they do is annoyingly gorgeous.
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