By Devon Chodzin ’19
After three years of mind-rending anticipation, the Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House has officially dropped their fifth album, Depression Cherry. The pair, comprised of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, chose to revisit their lightly-percussed, simple-but-mighty sound scheme that characterizes their original sound. Beach House purists–upset by both the musical grandeur and the intense popularity of their 2012 release, Bloom, are rejoicing that their beloved duo has returned to their roots–and so are their newest fans.
The greatest asset of this album is the track organization. The first and last tracks were recorded at the end of the duo’s sessions and are built for a binge-listening experience. The first track, “Levitation,” opens with traditional dream-pop themes and the hypnotic chorus: “There’s a place I’d like to take you,” pulls you in to keep listening.
Functioning as the album’s other bookend, “Days of Candy” begins with an angelic choral introduction. The six-minute finale is meant to be one final climax, with the volume slowly climbing upwards until the very end of the track. “Days of Candy” fades away tantalizingly, beckoning to its listener, entreating them to follow the duo on subsequent audio journeys yet to come.
The album’s second track, and the only single off of Depression Cherry, is titled “Sparks.” What makes “Sparks” so important is the layering of sounds, which is rarely employed in dream-pop, as its audibly sharper white noise jolts the listener awake. “Sparks” is the album’s sunrise, ushering in a new aural experience for Beach House fans old and new. The remaining tracks comprise the album’s meat and potatoes, and offers something for everybody. “Space Song” offers a nod to all of the poets out there with careful attention to rhyme and meter as well as Legrand utilizing her impressive vocal range. “Beyond Love” and “10:37” are experiments in accented guitar, dead space, and lyrical pacing. Vital to the construction of any dream-pop record, “PPP” is the standard “jam” track, with the primary focus being on instrumental patterns which can expand or contract at a moment’s notice.
The album’s high point is “Wildflower,” which exhibits Legrand’s outstanding vocal talent and the duo’s commitment to systematic development in music. This is the quintessential Beach House style that fans have craved for over a decade. However, following this high point is the album’s low point, “Bluebird,” a track that, while giving Legrand a magnificent platform for her vocals, reeks of tepidity.
Depression Cherry has received firm but fair critical reception from the musical community, with most reviewers painting the album in a positive light. Those who prefer 2010’s Teen Dream or 2012’s Bloom admit to feeling underwhelmed by the album. That being said, Legrand and Scally stand by the more simple content in Depression Cherry, explaining to her fans via Sub Pop that the peaceful record reflects the duo’s collective best self. Those interested in seeing Beach House live (which is absolutely a worthwhile experience) should definitely try to get to Columbus on Thursday, September 17th, and hear them at the Newport Music Hall. There is no doubt that on that night, the atmosphere will be overflowing with beauty, harmony, and general chillness.
Victoria Legrand & Alex Scally on Depression Cherry: https://megamart.subpop.com/releases/beach_house/depression_cherry