Dream pop duo Beach House has always been difficult to categorize. The ambient sprawl of albums like Depression Cherry, Bloom and most recently 7 extends past the clear-cut minimalism of bands like The xx, yet also does not quite reach the same level of jarring starkness as artists like Arca. Beach House fuses elements of pop and indie rock underneath thin layers of warped, abstract production. Never enough to hit the complete surrealism of, say, FKA Twigs’ LP1, but just enough to send elements of their songs, the various synths, chords and vocalizations skyward. Beach House’s music always seems to come at you from a great distance, resting high above the clouds. Their most recent single “Alien” is no different, and its accompanying animated video fits the song’s dream-like quality perfectly.
“Alien”’s video showcases a fluid progression of black and white geometric shapes. Much like a Rob Gonsalves painting, the music video plays heavily with positive and negative space: A series of black triangles swimming across a white background expands into a series of white triangles swimming across a black background; a globe of shifting black and white patterns flattens into a solid black horizontal line; black shapes emerge as plant shoots, growing upward until they extend into the horizon like a ghostly highway. In a similar sense to previous animated videos “Lose Your Smile” and “Lemon Glow,” the point of “Alien”’s video is not to tell an illustrated story of the song itself, but rather to fit the song’s slow, steady and organic rise and fall of tempo.
In watching the “Alien” video, you not only get an idea of the song’s overall tone but also a glimpse of Beach House’s overall essence; just as the video seems to exist in an alternate dimension, so does Beach House — the duo’s musical transcendence warping time and space into nonconformity.