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There aren’t many bands who are in as much control of their craft as Beach House. The dream-pop duo’s penchant for creating atmospheric, hazy songs is unwavering; manifesting itself over six albums in a nine-year period.

After releasing Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars within the space of a couple of months in 2015, the duo has taken the time to collate past B-Sides and remixes on this new release, with the addition of two new songs. The first of these, lead single ‘Chariot’, could have slotted in on the wonderful Depression Cherry, with Victoria Legrand’s smoky vocals foregrounding Alex Scally’s chiming guitars. ‘Baseball Diamond’, the other new song, is much like the output on the latter album, sounding more like the band’s early work with its sparser sound and steadier tempo.

Past B-Sides make up the bulk of the album, with the excellent ‘Equal Mind’, a leftover from their 2012 masterpiece Bloom, proving to be the standout song from the collection. The swirling synths could soundtrack a stroll through an abandoned fairground, continuing the band’s tradition of taking you somewhere else. ‘The Arrangement’, with its chirpy keyboard notes, evoke images of someone flicking through a reel of their whole life, akin to the material on the band’s second album Devotion. ‘White Moon’, an outtake from 2010’s Teen Dream, their breakthrough album, is surprisingly up-tempo and chipper, with the twinkling keyboards and spritely rhythm section being a marked departure in their discography.

Beach House, B-Sides and Rarities (Sub Pop/Bella Union), released 30 June 2017, is available on Apple Music and Spotify

The rest of the collection is a bit of a mish-mash, with ‘Saturn Song’ and ‘Baby’ failing to make an impression. A drawback of the band’s extraordinary grasp of their own sound is the fact that songs can often blend into one another, and these two tracks in particular are a victim of that. A cover of Queen’s ‘Play the Game’ is constructed so well that you could mistake it for an original Beach House song, and their reworking of songs also manifests itself in remixes of Teen Dreams anthems ‘Norway’ and ’10 Mile Stereo’. In the case of the latter, it is intriguing to hear such a fast-paced song slowed down to a glacial pace, but, as with the case of the original version of ‘Used to Be’ (featuring an alternate bridge), they are versions you’ll probably never return to.

Such is the excellence of Beach House, they manage to make a selection of random songs sound cohesive and uniform, with this career-spanning collection of tracks highlighting the band’s knack of creating woozy, textured compositions. However, much like with most B-Sides, it just makes you want to listen to their best stuff.

6/10

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Posted by George Lewis

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