DEPRESSION CHERRY by Beach House
Genre: Dream Pop
Favorite Tracks: “Sparks”, “Space Song”, “Days of Candy”
This discussion has been going on for years. It’s clear that Beach House is one of those bands that stick to an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” type of philosophy. That not to say their music is bad, to the same degree that that’s not to say their music is perfect. Despite lacking any sort of real evolution, the band has managed to establish a signature sound and a massive following. When people think of dream pop, they think of Beach House, and those listening to Beach House know just what they’re in for: Victoria Legrand’s effects-laden synths and haunting vocals paired with the calming guitars of Alex Scally. After the worthwhile but forgettable effort that was BLOOM and refusing to sell out to Volkswagen, the band returns with an album whose title perfectly captures their comforting yet melancholic appeal.
DEPRESSION CHERRY is not a huge departure from what has come to be expected from Beach House. Wall-of- sound fuzziness takes a backseat, placing Legrand’s voice and keyboard talents center stage, with Scally bringing slightly more intimate guitars despite a sense of atmosphere being present and easy to get lost in. The one exception to this is the second track, “Sparks”, wherein Scally comes in right away with thick and shoegaze-y guitars, taking obvious cues from My Bloody Valentine and making for a pretty decent single. Truthfully, the album does deserve a bit more reverb oomph and pizazz to keep it afloat. This change makes it so that many songs on this release rely heavily on Legrand’s singing, an obligation she delivers on for the most part. Rather than going as deep as she can, her vocals recall those found on their debut album. For instance, on “Days of Candy”, the album’s magnificent closer, Legrand actually sounds unmistakably female, making for a more ethereal tone accompanied by a heavenly choir. Lyrical content, as usual, consists of things one would similarly hear in actual dreams: cryptic invitations and descriptions of hallucinatory landscapes. The only real let down comes from her spoken word intro to “PPP”, which is delivered awkwardly and ruins the track.
With the decision to tone down or completely do away with reverb, along with other depths of instrumentation such as percussion, flaws in song progression are easier to distinguish. Thankfully, the duo realizes that this calls for a more dynamic approach. With the stronger tracks on this album, like the opener “Levitation”, synths and guitars appropriately mix things up just at the right time in order to maintain a dream-like state without devolving into monotony. When these formulas work they excel in being some of the most wondrous and fun dream pop tracks this year, but there are downsides present as well. The songs that have had less thought put into them, like “10:37” and “Wildflower”, become increasingly predictable and ultimately boring because of this. A lot of things start blending together and sounding pretty same-y towards the end. Most of the album, however, can be thoroughly enjoyed for its sheer ability to allow the listener to become completely lost, thus doing exactly what the parameters of its genre entail.