Record Store Day in April of 2023. It was announced that there was a new companion EP to Once Twice Melody, the 2022 LP by dream pop duo Beach House. It’s called the Become EP, and it was limited to — get this — JUST 8,000 copies on clear wax. Shell out $20-25 for five songs, and you could own a “rare” copy of this!
Seems like another ploy and gimmick to capitalize on the current vinyl craze. Right?
But damnit, wouldn’t you know, I got myself a copy anyway. Today, I’m going to pose the question: is it worth ith?
Before we dig in, let’s briefly take a look at the band’s last offering.
I dig into this quite a bit further in my video, so if you’d rather watch you can do so here:
A Companion to Once Twice Melody
In my upcoming coverage where I rank all eight Beach House albums, you’ll notice that Once Twice Melody was kinda low on the list. Teaser: it barely cracked the top 5.
I struggled a lot with Once Twice Melody. I felt it was a major step down from some of their most recent albums, which were true powerhouses: 7 from 2018 and Depression Cherry from 2015. Where other albums had songs that wowed me and pulled me into the album, those signatures seemed somewhat absent here.
Add to the fact that Sub Pop and Beach House released it as a box set for upwards of $50. I got myself a copy of that and it left me feeling like 1) I probably spent far too much for it, and 2) I probably should have just picked up the standard pressing. It all left a bad taste in my mouth.
Still, I like the album, consider it mostly decent, and it’s still growing on me.
OK, let’s jump forward to Become EP.
Become EP Reviewed
First off, there’s something a bit different here. I noticed it a little on Once Twice Melody, but on Become it seems quite a bit more pronounced, a bit more emphasized. There’s this general hum that you don’t find on previous Beach House releases. It pulsates and digs at your brain.
The effect is even more mesmerizing than the typical sonic soundscapes and ethereal atmospheres the band has been giving us for closing in on two decades now.
I liken it to the experience I had when first listening to Blue Rev by Alvvays on vinyl for the first time early this year. The mastering of that record, like this one, is phenomenal. Qualities eek out that you don’t get from the digital version. The sound is bigger, fuller, more expansive.
Victoria Legrand’s vocals are soft and melodic as always. Not much has changed there, though several of the songs do have really great vocal hooks. Where things are elevated, though, is in Alex Scally’s musicianship. And, even more so, in the overall recording, engineering, and mastering.
Breaking Down the Track List
It begins with “American Daughter” — it takes a moment for the song to kick in, and in that moment Beach House gives us an underlying white noise. And that could be it, the white noise. It permeates throughout all five songs; it creates this contraction in the music: a pent up tension and a release, all simultaneously.
“Devil’s House” slows things down, and Beach House delves into true ballad mode. If David Lynch were to release a new season of Twin Peaks, I could see this stepping into the gap left when Julee Cruise passed away last year.
There’s an ark here, a wave in the album that builds in intensity and power and subsides rather quickly. The midpoint, the peak of the ark, is track A3, “Holiday House.” The most memorable vocals, the dreamiest melodies. I love this song — THIS is what was missing from Once Twice Melody.
It also seems to be the most popular one on the EP so far. At least in terms of Spotify plays, though YouTube listeners seem to favor the title track, which closes out the B side.
After the wow-factor we get with “Holiday House,” the B pulls back a bit too much. “Black Magic” doesn’t entrance me nearly as much; it lacks the power and the melodic brain teasers we get with each track on the A side. But, with title-track “Become,” the B-side does round out the EP nicely, and lends well to packaging it all up with a nice pretty dream pop little bow.
The question remains: To get Become or to leave it behind?
Personally, if you are budget conscious, I think with 8,000 copies on clear wax you’re best to wait 4-6 months. The price is likely to come down. In fact, Sub Pop just announced they’re giving it a standard black vinyl release. Whatever you do, I recommend either of these over getting the One Twice Melody box set.
How’s that for some good old consumer advice?
I discuss this a little in my YouTube Unboxing Video of the EP, which you can check out below:
To truly answer the question, though, I have to give it an honest, resounding YES!
I love this EP and how it turned out. I don’t mind that I shelled out at least $20 for it. The music is worth it. The band is worth it. Beach House, I’m once again hooked!