Beach House on Their B-Sides and Rarities Collection | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Beach House on Their B-Sides and Rarities Collection

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Though it seems like a distant memory, there once was a time when nearly every band that had a significant following would release a “B-sides and rarities” collection. These were the days when singles were released on physical mediavinyl 45s, cassettes, CDsthat would have extra space available for a previously unreleased song. But with the advent of singles being released in a digital format, B-sides are a bit of an anachronism and unreleased songs are often saved for bonus digital content or deluxe reissues, if they aren’t left to languish as little heard moments compiled by obsessive fans. It was these listeners that Beach House was hoping to reach with B-Sides and Rarities.

“We realized there were a bunch of things and there was no way to find them without being a YouTube super-fan,” explains guitarist Alex Scally. “So we just thought we’d put it together and make it easy for people. But maybe it is a ‘80s and ‘90s kind of thing,” he continues, admitting that he hadn’t previously considered that releasing such a collection wasn’t typical for an indie band in 2017. “It seemed very natural to us, but now that we’re talking about it, I guess no one really does that.”

In keeping with the spirit of classic collections of rarities, Beach House brings together 14 tracks that span the length of their career, all of the odd cousins that weren’t invited to sit for a family picture. Both Scally and vocalist/keyboardist Victoria Legrand admit that such a collection might seem exotic for a band such as Beach House, since they are masters of weaving moods and textures through entire albums and in no sense a “singles band.” But after six full-length releases, they had accumulated an archive of unreleased and hard-to-find material that hadn’t felt quite right for any of those albums. What they’ve made serves as an unofficial seventh album, a collection that somehow holds together as a coherent and satisfying whole, despite having not been designed as such.

Remastered and re-engineered to create a sense of sonic unity, the collection brings together snapshots from every phase in Beach House’s development. They range from the swirling lo-fi piano balladry of “Rain in Numbers” (a track dating all the way back to 2005), to the dreamy “Baseball Diamond” and the soulfully smoldering “Baby,” arguably one of the most distinctive tracks in their catalog. Most striking is the duo’s cover of Queen’s “Play the Game,” translating the original’s soaring theatricality into a sighing, reflective ballad. Two tracks“Baseball Diamond” and “Chariot”had never been released in any format. Song by song, it’s a set that feels like more than a collection of odds and ends.

“It can also be a way of tying it all together and moving on to the future, which is sort of what it feels like to me,” Legrand says. “If you’re really into collecting and curating, this would be one big chapter, and then you move on to the future, whatever that is. I don’t really look at the songs and think, ‘This could be a direction for Beach House.’ I look at it as a final scrapbook of the last 12 years. Now we can just take a deep breath and move forward.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s Summer 2017 Issue (July/August/September 2017), which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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