Beach House's new album '7' is a departure from the norm in both sound and vision marking the beginning of a new era for Baltimore's finest
BY DEE IVA
The cover is a monochromatic assemblage that includes faces, textures, crowd scenes, architectural details and sunsets. Layered on top of this seemingly random collection of images are iridescent patches of foil blocking that give the otherwise flat artwork a futuristic shimmer. The title of the album sits bang in the centre of a floating foil panel which partially obscures the Shrimpton-esque face staring out at us. It’s indicative of the nature of the album it houses which is itself a kaleidoscopic collection of songs.
ABOVE: Post Typography's surreal front cover for '7'
ABOVE RIGHT: Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand
BELOW: The back cover repeats motifs from the front in an ascending formation of the number 7
ABOVE: The various iterations of the album cover for vinyl, CD and cassette include an eye-popping yellow disc
On previous albums Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have restricted themselves to creating work that could be played live but this time around they’ve been more experimental, layering vocals and adding in studio effects to craft richer sounds and textures. The first track, ‘Dark Spring’, is driven along at an insistent pace by searing guitars and a relentless beat not usually identified with the band’s trademark somnambulistic sound. The next few tracks are classic Beach House, atmospheric and lilting until ‘Dive’ kicks off halfway through transforming into something of a gentle headbanger. Fizz fave ‘Woo’ is all swirly Eighties synths topped with Legrand’s soporific vocals.
Post Typography founder Nolen Strals says, ‘In conversations at the beginning of the design process, Beach House explained they wanted a stark black and white layout to fit the darker, more dystopian feeling of their new album ‘7’. The visual component of the album needed to express an unsettled, surreal, science fiction-tinged futurism, with some nod to the rough edges of punk while retaining a feminine quality. Victoria and Alex were also very interested in a collage which dovetailed well with our own recent interest and explorations in that medium.’
ABOVE: The Sixties revisited? The swirling psychedelic inner gatefold sleeve artwork for '7'
‘We struck upon the idea of using an iridescent foil early on in the process because it works on two levels. At certain angles it would look grey and flat, blending into the black and white art. Then at other angles it explodes in a rainbow of shifting colors, a hint of the future flashing through. The addition of the foil makes the physical album even more of a special object, a beautiful and surprising thing that fans would want to hold or have on their shelf. You can’t foil stamp Spotify…’
We think Post Typography’s striking design captures the fragmented nature of ‘7’ perfectly. Its fractal psychedelic energy ripples effortlessly across vinyl, CD and cassette formats reinvigorating the art of album cover design. We highly recommend investing in the vinyl version for the full effect... Fizz rating 8/10
beachhousebaltimore.com posttypography.com bellaunion.com
'7' is out now on Bella Union