The fine folks at Sub Pop Records were nice enough to send us a very limited edition, White Vinyl copy of Beach House’s newest release Depression, as well as two limited posters. We always like to see prizes like this go to true fans. So we’re going to put you to work! Being a true fan, you surely have a deep understanding for Beach House and can speak at length about their music. We want to hear what you have to say about their newest albums in the form of an album review. From all the reviews submitted, we’ll select one winner to receive the limited white vinyl and a poster. This winner’s review will then be featured on our blog next Friday! And who knows, if it’s good enough, we might just ask you to keep submitting reviews! Anyone who submits a review will be entered to win a ten dollar Stinkweeds gift card and a limited Beach House Poster, which will be raffled off to a random winner.

All reviews must be submitted by Thursday, September 3rd. You can post your review in the comments section below, or on our Facebook page. By entering your review, you are giving us the right to post this review on our blog and on social media.

Best of Luck!

 

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. Beach House.  The swirly and euphoric duo that I fell in love with when I used to frequent the Phoenix to Tucson highway often.  Two hours of vast desert terrain, oozing sunsets and the occasional, terrifying, dust storm allotted the perfect opportunity for Beach House to shower me in pure catharsis. 

    This band’s ability to combine pensive angst with hope is truly surreal and I believe the title of their new album, Depression Cherry, is indicative of this power.  A state that Beach House fans crave and devour.  Like the first single from this album alludes when Victoria Legrand beautifully sings “something natural- don’t we know its cruel,” on Sparks.  

    Okay, enough ranting- I am ready to get into the guts of this Depression Cherry.  Also, as an aside, I did not risk associating one of my favorite bands with a computer virus when this album sadly leaked prematurely.  

    This will be a track by track review of sorts… I want to share how they make me feel and my take on the songs.

    After hearing Sparks for this first time I envisioned a path the Baltimore shoegaze duo was about to embark on with this firth upcoming album and come to find out I couldn’t be more pleasantly wrong.  Sparks is an intense journey commenced by Alex Scally’s roughly distorted guitar and moments later balanced by Legrand’s smoother, higher (than usual) tuned vocals.  This song song like a dance between the two.  Present, infectious and refreshing.  

    Once I was able to hear the album in it’s entirety I was ready to embark on the journey Sparks had loudly hinted at.  The opening track, Levitation, begins with a emerging synth note that either sounds like an opening scene for a horror film or suspense thriller.  Almost instantaneously you are reminded that this is Beach House by the familiar patter of a cymbal that is reminiscent of their previous album Bloom.  The song truly begins to shine when Legrand begins singing in that higher, current tone I was speaking of previously.  She saunters and levitates around this classic arrangement.  

    The album really takes off for me on Beyond Love.  Yes the instrumentation is dreamy and awesome, but the fascination begins when, at about 1:05, Legrand hits us with an infectious pop hook that I am such a sucker for but have never experienced in the Beach House discography.  This moment is nostalgic and reminds me of all the stupid and ill-constructed things I did as a teenager.  However, this song helps me unpack those emotions in an almost humorous way.  Sorry if this is too self explorative, it’s the only way I know how to discuss Beach House.

    10:37 is the perfect song to trail off the previous.  It is stark, slightly industrial and highlighted by Legrand vocally frolicking as if she is haunting a shell in which she used to inhabit.  Visually, I see a dark warehouse with a jittery flashlight being the only source of light as you chase the ghost of 10:37 around until your battery dies.  

    PPP is perhaps one of my favorite tracks!  Yet again, it begins with a familiar guitar riff but that soon becomes background noise to Legrand’s spoken lyrics that remind me much of Kim Gordon on Goo’s Tunic (Song for Karen).  It’s totally awesome and new from this band, she totally pulls it off.  A bright moment on this track is also one that has me listening to it over and over again.  I don’t have the album lyric sheets yet, so I don’t know if she says “tracing figure eights on ice” or something else.  Whatever it may be I have already adopted a visual interpretation of that hook.  It is sad and is indicative of these explorations of past experiences and selves.  After the final lyric you are gifted a 3 minute long dream pop jam that may evoke optimism or existential crisis.  Go with it.
     
    The second to last track, Bluebird, unbolts as a mechanical, sci-fi ringtone that notes the fact you’re coming to the climax of this expedition Depression Cherry has just lead you on.  A re-birth of sorts.  Anyways, both this song and Sparks, I feel, are the most sonically interesting songs on the record.  Lyrically this songs may be expressing the growth this band feels with their music and is a vow to future music they may create.  “I would not ever try to capture you- Bluebird, where you gonna go now,” is what Victoria Legrand professes, possibly as a statement that they will never try to own their style, with the idea that music should not be contrived or ever overly comfortable for the artist.  They just want it to be free and are happy to follow, even if it leads to the gallows.  Just a thought, I am certain they have drastically different themes in mind. 

    Finally, the closing prayer.  The moment when Beach House acknowledges their followers in the most religious way possible.  Days of Candy, personally, addresses my relationship with the music as I had explained before.  I think they know that they provide a release, an escape, a therapy session.  As the lyrics say, no one can find you.  This songs embodies those drives to Tucson and back as the sunset oozed.  Alone, I was riding off into the universe.  Days of Candy.  

    Overall this album is awesome!  I think anyone who likes and follows Beach House will gush over this record.  However, I wouldn’t present this album to a new listener.  Bloom and Teen Dream are much more approachable and seemingly more interesting.  Don’t get me wrong this album is highly interesting but is slower and less “hooky” than previous albums.  

    Everyone should listen to this album, go get it and enjoy!

  2. Like the sun slowly rising after a painfully long and lonely night, Beach House beams some love at us once again. Despite consistently releasing an album every two years since 2006, Beach House took an extra year to deliver this subtle treasure. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally are a little bit older now, but time has seemingly only made them more comfortable with their sound, as well as their place in the hearts and minds of millions.

    When asked by NPR about their statement declaring Depression Cherry “a return to simplicity”, they admitted their immediate regret in labeling it such, stating that the phrase could be interpreted differently by everyone. They’re right. Ultimately, the album is not as much a return to simplicity as a newfound comfortability in subtlety. Beach House has seemingly traded in the giant washed out crescendos of Bloom for a sound that takes a softer, more direct route into your heart.

    As if a sign that it’s still the same old Beach House, the album begins with a nostalgia-soaked beat reminiscent of many past tracks, as it eases us into “Levitation”. “There’s a place I want to take you”, Legrand sings, hinting at some of the wondrous new sounds to come. This track’s classic slow build leads us gently into their new album. As a distorted guitar rings through washy Vaseline walls of sound, we are confronted by a new sound for Beach House. “Sparks” stands out as the most progressive of Beach House’s new tunes. The synth seems to always keep you guessing, and heavy guitar is something previously unattempted by them. Despite being their leading single for Depression Cherry, “Sparks” doesn’t quite retain the melodic gold Legrand and Scally have found in other songs on the album, but the song still has its moments.

    “Space Song” is pure unabashed Beach House bliss. Those fans that never tire of the classic sound will love this track’s bubbly synth, backed by some of Legrand’s heart wrenching vocals. It goes above and beyond to solidify itself as one of the most beautiful Beach House compositions to date. Another of the three singles released for the album, “Beyond Love” is a good reflection of the album’s subtlety. The song glides between verse and chorus with no warning from the drums, with Legrand once again, and to glorious effect, showering us with more beautiful thoughts.

    Starting with what sounds like a simple pre-programmed cheap 80’s keyboard beat slowed down, Legrand and Scally dive into their most mysterious song on Depression Cherry. “1037” is a tightrope walk between subtlety and complex, hymn-like melody. Easing us into another heavy-hearted wonder, Legrand seems to almost whisper a few mysterious lines before ushering us into one of the strongest tracks on Depression Cherry, and arguably one of the most beautiful songs they’ve ever written. “PPP” retains those familiarly hypnotizing, hymn-like melodies as Legrand seems to sing about a past love, and Scally matches her with some equaling heart-breaking guitar licks.

    “Wildflower” is the ideal companion for a late-night drive in your Delorean, or a misty memory montage of the lover who stood you up for your 1983 prom. Legrand and Scally fully embrace their influences in this retro treasure. Continuing the 80’s theme, a jarringly simple 808 beat leads us into one of the album’s most minimal yet rewarding tracks on the album, titled “Bluebird”.

    In the discographic history of Beach House’s album aesthetic, they have frequently treated their final track with the reverence album-enders deserve. They continue their streak of poignant bookends with “Days of Candy”, gracefully leading you to the last note of the album with a hypnotic lullaby that almost seems to lovingly rock you to sleep before taking your hand and guiding you through the lightest parts of your dreams.

    • One of the single greatest things about the discography of Beach House is it’s familiarity to those who have come to love the Beach House sound. It feels so reassuring as a fan, that the artist that you love is secure in their sound. Today, most artists seem to give in to a litany of ever-reaching creative changes that only serve to show the insecurities lurking deep within their egos. Victoria and Alex seem so comfortable in the sound that is now so unmistakably theirs that there is no sign of struggle to change and adapt to changing times. Their sound is timeless. And in the annals of their creative existence, Depression Cherry sits proudly along side the beautiful pieces of art that came before it.

  3. “Where do they go from here?” It’s been a legitimate question to ask along the timeline of magnificent Beach House productions. The Baltimore duo has, impressively, been able to answer that question quite resoundingly with each release. After achieving a modern masterpiece with their Sub Pop debut, Teen Dream, Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand doubled down on their dream pop progression with Bloom, taking the band from the quiet comfort of indie darlings to, if not the mainstream, something more ambitious. Never has the “Where do they go from here?” question been more apropos than following Bloom; assuredly something grander than that would weigh the “dream pop” scale too heavily to the latter. (And by the way, while some may meet the dream pop label with an eye roll, I’m sorry—it fits Beach House like a velvet glove.)

    Where they went from there is Depression Cherry, the first album that doesn’t answer its predecessor resoundingly. Rather, it’s a slow burn of a response, or, more likely, not a response at all. Scally and Legrand, after all, don’t seem as concerned with their evolution as they are with making meaningful music, which has made their evolution natural and unforced. It’s easy to mistake the album as the duo retreating to the subtle nuances of their self-titled debut and sophomore effort—indeed, Depression Cherry seemingly fits better in between Devotion and Teen Dream than as a follow-up to Bloom—but the album is revelatory in its admission that less is more.

    If the title doesn’t prove as much—“Depression Cherry” is pretty far from the burgeoning, overt beauty of something called “Bloom”—the opening track will. You can rightly expect “Levitation” to ascend, but it will only do what it promises: levitate. Whether you experience that as disappointment or delicate, refined splendor will ultimately determine how you perceive Depression Cherry. It’s my suspicion, if you’re listening to Beach House in the first place, you will opt for splendor.

    That’s not to say the album is understated throughout. “PPP” and lead single “Sparks” are more authoritative in their mission. As someone who’s been mildly obsessed with Beach House’s penchant for making one track seem like two with an artful turn—for what it’s worth, I consider the latter part of “Used to Be” off Teen Dream among the most gorgeous slices of music I’ve heard—the elongated, guitar-aided conclusion of “PPP” is a wonder. Still, the riffs of “Beyond Love” and steady tick of “Bluebird” are carefully crafted, something you grow to adore as they remain in your subconscious like, oh I don’t know … a dream.

    In interviews coinciding with the album’s release, Legrand maintains that the songwriting is interpretative, definable only to the listener. And I don’t interpret Depression Cherry to be depressing at all. Indeed, on “Levitation,” when Legrand croons, in her signature, haunted best, “There’s a place I want to take you,” it’s a cordial invite to a mysterious yet exquisite landscape. But depression itself is something beneath the surface, something that transcends the hallow pleasures of everyday life, and that’s where Beach House has always made its bones. This album might be the cherry on top of that aesthetic, perfectly nestling itself within an enchanting catalog.

    A good friend of mine introduced me to my wife. He also, a few years later, introduced me to Beach House. There are times I feel almost as indebted to him for the latter as I do the former. It was love at first sight in both cases. Is that a tired cliché? Beach House might think so, which may explain why Depression Cherry is not as easily recognizable. Rather, it cordially invites you to something deeper. Something, as one of its tracks suggests, beyond love. The journey is quite worth it, even if it leaves you with the nagging question, “Where do they go from here?”

  4. It is rare for me to find an album that I love front to back. Depression Cherry is one of those albums. Beach House is one my favorite bands and this album is 100% classic Beach House. Upon my first listen, I loved most tracks, but there were a few that I thought were just good. But the more I listened to the whole album, I began to enjoy those tracks just as much as my favorites. Depression Cherry really flows well as a whole. Not one song feels misplaced or disjointed. That is extremely impressive considering some songs are drastically different. This album can be enjoyed in many different ways. One way to listen is to put on some nice headphones, lay down, and let the dreamy music wash over you while not really paying attention to the lyrics. The opposite is to carefully listen to the lyrics and the message the songs are delivering, which then allows the music to take on a whole other life. This album is very atmospheric. You can get lost in the instrumentation or just the stories being told by Victoria. Impressively, both separate parts of the music can hold their own all by themselves. When put together, it creates a masterpiece that can seemingly transport you into another state of being. Beach House has said the meaning of Depression Cherry is “a color, a place, a feeling, an energy… that describes the place you arrive as you move through the endlessly varied trips of existence…”. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s feelings can definitely be felt through this record.

  5. Depression Cherry is a dream pop break-up album only Beach House could create. Or, that’s how it works for me. Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand’s vocals evoke all of the pain, loss, doubt, and ultimate acceptance of a broken heart. And it is a heart breaking album, full of the vivid lyrics and lush, dreamy sounds that made me a Beach House fan. I can imagine succumbing to a doleful memory on my drive home from work to any song on this album. Depression Cherry is different from most recent albums Bloom and Teen Dream, less pop and slower synths. It’s more reminiscent of the pairs early work yet it still feels like a natural successor, sonically different from their other albums but still totally Beach House.
    From the opening track “Levitation”, the slow atmospheric sound of this album reveals itself. As the track flourishes Legrand dreamily sings “there’s a place I want to take you”, and the album delivers. Depression Cherry takes you to the part of your mind that wanders off on long car rides and lingers on “what- ifs?” late at night. The same part that forgets reality for just a few minutes when waking up, still caught in a dream. These lonesome, introspective in-between worlds are where the album operates; somewhere between peaceful and woeful. Second track, “Sparks” opens with textured chanting. It’s a surreal and melodic piece, with near industrial buzzing and heady guitar layered throughout. Released as a single I was excited for this album as soon as I heard it. “Sparks” is more experimental than anything the pair have done and for me, is the first real taste that this album is of a different breed than it’s predecessors.
    “Space Song” in my mind, captures the fear of just not knowing what to do without someone. “Fall back into place” as Legrand lilts, that inevitable answer that’s harder said than done. Backed by Scally’s undulating chords, “Space Song” is familiar territory for fans but still one of my favorites from the album. “Beyond Love” trails it, a deeply emotional track from the familiar long instrumental opening to it’s close. It’s swelling quixotic sounds could envelop you. Cue the drum beats introducing the notably starker “10:37”, a stirring song with lyrics full of abstract imagery. It’s a deeply personal yet wholly relatable track, which could be an appropriate description of the whole album. On “PPP” Legrand experiments with spoken word, a first for the band. “PPP” succeeds magnificently at this, Legrand’s haunting speaking voice cut between her signature singing is nothing short of refreshingly beautiful.
    The blooming instrumentals of “Wildflower” are too easy to get lost in, the song feels like a particularly sad and retrospective day-dream. On the penultimate “Bluebird” the pair create a ballad of quiet freedom, rung in with a metallic, rhythmic beat that persists for the length of the song. “Bluebird, where you gonna go now?” muses Legrand over the swelling music.
    Closing track “Days of Candy” is deceptively sweet sounding. Beginning with an ethereal but almost unsettling chorus, this is perhaps the saddest track on the album, the sense of loss and loneliness seep into every word and chord like a forlorn memory of better days. “Just like that it’s gone” mourns Legrand “The universe is riding off with you”. It’s an appropriately heart-breaking goodbye for the end of the album.
    I loved this getting lost in the introspective world of Depression Cherry. It’s a well rounded album, seemingly effortless; though I don’t doubt the meticulous crafting. It works as a whole and the tracks change from one to the other with natural fluidity. It’s refreshing to hear the duo venture outside of the expected on tracks like “Sparks” and “PPP”. Depression Cherry is invigorating but still comfortable, it accomplishes the feat of progression while staying true to the sound that made me fall in love with Beach House. Describing the greatness and the subtleties of this album is difficult, and as Legrand said in a recent interview, “It’s easier to just feel it.”

  6. “Depression Cherry”

    I read a depressing review the other day for Beach House’s fifth trip around the dreamy carousel, Depression Cherry. Complaining of “typical bogus drum machines” and “grinding organs,” the reviewer in question put forth the thesis—and I’m paraphrasing here—that the lush soundscapes of Depression Cherry fail miserably because they don’t reach new, innovative heights. Essentially, the new album is here to put people to sleep. I’m here—disclosing my ample bias for the band in question at the outset—to argue against the reigning belief that bands must relentlessly innovate their sound or perish under the weight of Internet-fueled vitriol. The endless pursuit of the “new” in music leaves us with a world of surfaces, of so-called innovation that comes at the expense of any group ever really getting the chance to refine work, to dive deep down into the architecture of their songs and tinker with the finer points.

    Beach House is, like, totally over that rather forceful call of the culture industry to radically reinvent themselves with every album. They prefer to refine their sound—and geewhiz, is Depression Cherry one heckuva finespun and delicately tuned record. Back in May when Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally announced the new album, they were explicit about their rejection of thoughtless innovation for innovation’s sake. In a press release, they said: “Here, we continue to let ourselves evolve while fully ignoring the commercial context in which we exist.” Kudos to them.

    In the same press release, they also teased a “return to simplicity,” sending the blogosphere (or whatever the kids call the Internet these days) abuzz. Would Depression Cherry take us back to the minimalist and haunting piano chords of their 2006 self-titled debut? Well, not quite. Scally and Legrand possess a rather different vision of simplicity than the rest of us.

    What we did get on that blisteringly hot day when the album dropped (it was 108° in our fair Valley on August 28th) was “luxuriant,” “lush,” “ethereal”—on and on I could go tossing out adjectives or describing at length the first time I listened to the album driving up to Flagstaff and feeling every hair on my arm stand on end within the first forty five seconds of the album opener “Levitation.”

    When I heard Legrand sing, “There’s a place I want to take you,” I wanted to shout back, “Yes, please! Sign me up!” The motivating impulse behind Beach House, I think, is this inhabiting this idea transit, of temporality, of reveling in the passage of time, those final few moments of bright pinks and purples that color almost every sunset (at least for us Arizonians). I’m sure 75% of the reactions to Beach House often entail some form of, “it makes me feel like I’m walking through [insert transcendental, mind-numbingly beautiful locale].” That’s how I used to describe the mental picture generated up in my noggin during a Beach House binge.

    I struggle to separate my personal relationship to any Beach House album (particularly Bloom and Depression Cherry) from an “objective” discussion of their sound. I could—if I was more fluent in the realm of music production—laud Legrand ad infinitum for her inimitable prowess on the organ or the group’s ear for layering sounds, but I could also say that when Bloom came out in 2012, I was about to graduate high school and there was no other band that seemed to embody that sense of passing better than Beach House. When Legrand asked, “What comes after this/Momentary bliss” on “Myth,” I practically sobbed. Yes, what does come after this momentary bliss?

    Well, now I’m nearing the end of college, and Depression Cherry is here meditating on the same themes of impermanence, gently urging me to wax nostalgic for its 45-minute run time (45 minutes if it’s assumed I only listen once, which has happened roughly zero times since it dropped).

    “It won’t last forever, but maybe it will” filters through on one of the album’s strongest tracks “PPP,” and I’m over here wondering why exactly they went with Depression Cherry as a title. Is the impermanence of life bittersweet? Are cherries even bittersweet? Why have I yet to be depressed by the album? I have no conclusive answer, except for a shot at the latter question.

    Depression Cherry is not depressing because of the sense of awe and wonderment imbued in the arrangement of each track. We don’t quite reach new “innovative heights” (as desired by the reviewer I lampooned earlier); we merely levitate in-between two points. Some might say that is a recipe for boredom, for being lulled to sleep. I’d like to argue for phrases like “a sense of splendor” or “who needs Walden Pond when we have Beach House?”

    When trying to describe something that seems a few degrees larger than life—like, say, the sweeping eaves of a cathedral—humans tend to stumble and ramble. I’m rambling here. How does one “wrap things up” on an album that never seems to begin or end, an album that pulls off the impossible trick of lingering in present moment? Should I make a an arbitrary comment about the band’s choice to ship out the record in a red velvet sleeve—despite the fact that velvet is totally back in vogue according to the Fall 2015 Pottery Barn catalog (and therefore “mainstream” and therefore “blah”)—falls in line with their stated philosophy of ignoring the commercial context in which they exist? Should I find a good metaphor? Should I relate the time I listened to Depression Cherry on a night earlier this week with a few friends when the power went out during a rainstorm, and we sat in silence listening to the rain and music, and I felt like, surely, it wouldn’t last forever, but maybe it would?

  7. Sticking to your guns and holding a strict formula can be hard for creativity, but the end
    result can be predictable. Depression Cherry, Beach House’s fifth album, gives you a sense of the music striped, dampened and oppressed harkening back to their roots. A testament to the albums name but not foregoing the overall production of the music. Depression Cherry portrays the direct result of the success Beach House has felt over the past couple of albums.

    The use of velvet on the album cover is fitting to the artistic vision of Beach House. Just
    feeling the outer shell of the album gives you a sense of what Beach House is bringing to your ears. The velvet is a smooth and penetrating red that brings feelings of sensuality.

    Depression Cherry has less drum presence than past albums but Victoria Legrand’s voice is still driving the songs direction. Giving relatable stories such as Bluebird, a song about a special someone who cannot be captured even if she wanted or could. She’s in arms reach of her ‘bluebird’ though she knows that letting go has to happen. An intriguing song, 10:37, is guided by a unfamiliar story line and yet a heavenly chorus, but you’re soon pulled in with a graceful guitar loop. 10:37 is a classic Beach House song full of mystery where you can easily get lost in. The first single to come from Depression Cherry, Sparks, builds around their home town of Baltimore and possibly reflects the gentrification of the city. A struggle to keep a beautiful city full of dreams and hopes alive and just when it seems reachable , “…it goes dark again, just like a spark.”

    The blend of Legrand’s voice and raw intricacy of Alex Scally’s guitar create layers which resonate in every Beach House song. The melding of the two defines Beach House music . Scally has a way of hiding in the background, grabbing and returning with a more profound sound to really give each song its own personality.

    Beach House continues to keeping giving us music that can stir your
    emotions. Depression Cherry is perfect for a first time listener or the Beach House faithful.

  8. Most of us can remember the very first time we ever came upon a Beach House song. We can remember wondering if this music was made decades ago and, concurrently, understanding it as a product of our time. We can remember feeling that Victoria Legrand’s voice must belong to some specter speaking to us from some realm beyond our world while also feeling the distinct warmth present when talking to an old friend. Beach House have always made music that is sincere, hazy, and comfortable. In keeping with tradition, their latest album Depression Cherry is a collection of beautifully conceived and executed offerings that seek to wrap the listener up into an inviting, friendly embrace. The duo has stated their intention to return to their roots with the new release, and it is, at its core, a collection of themes and sounds from their previous albums painted in a different light and presented as a lovely little package of nostalgia. The final result is something gorgeous, familiar, and sentimental.

    Scally and Legrand have gone even further in banishing the lo-fi and the echo of their earlier recordings in favor of a slicker, more structured sound. “Sparks,” with its heavy guitar (heavy, at least, for Beach House) and indie-rock feel approaches the style of say, Deerhunter, and it impresses. A plaintive chord progression provides an oddly fitting backbone to playful clicks on “Bluebird”, resulting in an effortlessly complex product definitely worth revisiting. “ppp” serves as the record’s centerpiece and is the sonic equivalent of a romantic swoon. The track is an obvious highlight, and it even seems like something that could have existed in the world of 2010’s Teen Dream. This brings me to the most noticeable aspect of the new album: Depression Cherry is definitely supplied with standout moments, but it does not stray far from the road they’ve paved for themselves beginning with 2006’s debut Beach House.

    The duo is known for a sound they’ve created by working primarily with a finite permutation set of handy components: Jangly guitar. Victoria Legrand’s serene contralto. Muted, mid-tempo drum beats. Synthetic strings and organs. Only thing is, there are only so many ways to arrange these sounds in ways that come across as predominantly pleasant. After following about a decade’s worth of Beach House crafting beautiful music using this formula, one begins to wonder if the duo’s genius for synthesis is limited. It’s a difficult question to answer, since attempting to do so brings up more questions than answers. Is it more admirable for an artist to find what works and stick to it, or is it more admirable for an artist to constantly push at boundaries at the risk of failing miserably? Which is the nobler feat: Dutiful adherence to a well-tested formula, or the outright the rejection of the concept of a formula all around? Is it appropriate to value comfort over ambition? When we vilify an artist from deviating from convention and creating something that offends our sensibilities, are we discouraging ingenuity?

    In the end it comes down to personal preference, but even the most ardently pro-experimentation among us should at least concede that an artist operating within the confines of a formula gets credit for inventing the formula to begin with. Therefore, it is difficult to fault Beach House for sounding too much like themselves on this record, which is and has always arguably been their only transgression. Not all artists are in the business of trailblazing. Asking an artist obviously more interested in ruminating upon a particular theme than raising eyebrows to deviate from their comfort zone seems like an unfair and misguided request.

    As for Depression Cherry specifically, any of these songs could play over the closing scene of a Sofia Coppola film. For instance, they would play when Bill Murray whispers that imfamously unknown something into Scarlett Johansson’s ear at the end of Lost in Translation, as Stephen Dorff strolls off pensively into the middle of the countryside in “Somewhere,” or while Kirsten Dunst is driven away from her palace in “Marie Antoinette.” There is a particularly hushed type of melancholy to Depression Cherry that would be very fitting playing over the resolutions of complicated characters’ vaguely tragic stories told in telling details rather than in large, glaringly important scenes. Also, and most importantly, this music works best when it serves as a soundtrack to other melancholic moments as opposed to being tasked with rousing up any deep emotions on its own.

    Depression Cherry (and Beach House’s music as a whole) is best experienced as a texture: something to enhance already concrete experiences and feelings. It occupies a particular and secure spot amongst their other work. Over time, the duo’s sound has taken on a life of its own so that it exists is a representation of a particular emotion: something unclassifiable, ambiguously bright, and enveloped in the strange type of despondency that usually accompanies musings about a bygone, beloved era. Over time, Beach House have grown and evolved strictly on their own terms. They seem to have hoarded all of the components of their formula into one spot and built a wall around themselves there, and there, the duo creates within the confines of the wall, exploring and coaxing subtle nuances out of the grander theme of their idiosyncratic sound. What they lack in being a “trailblazing” duo they make up for in being a seasoned one; Legrand and Scally are two people who know very well what they do best and how best to do it.

  9. Depression Cherry.

    In every interview with the duo comprising Beach House, Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand return again and again to the idea of what is “natural” to them when describing what they were trying to accomplish with Depression Cherry. Herein lies the success of the album, what is natural to them is natural to us all. We have all been touched by the themes of the album in our own lives – love, loss, the passage of time. It is nearly impossible to listen to Beach House without being drawn into the sound and allowing your own memories to flicker between the lines of the lyrics, and Depression Cherry exemplifies this phenomenon. Though this album does not depart from the dreamlike quality of their existing body of work, the dream here is certainly lucid. There is a conscientiousness in each song and the album as a whole that captures what reflection upon existence feels like, much in the same way that nonlinear plot-lines are often more successful representations of life and streams of consciousness than those that are linear. Depression Cherry manages to collapse past, present, and future into one singular experience, a perfect mirror of the way it feels to have time slip from future to past each moment. The opening track, Levitation, captures this feeling wholly. Lyrically, it seems that the song begins with a recounting of a past relationship, but told in the present, with the future looming on the horizon. The song moves from a vague narrative to the repetition of the line “there’s a place I want to take you, when the unknown will surround you” as the music swells and builds, culminating in an oscillating high-pitched note accompanied by a slow, steady tambourine. This repetition, a common theme within each of the songs in the album, provides a beautiful ambiguity. Is this repeated line referring to one moment with one person played over and over again in the mind’s eye, the state of being in which one is constantly on the cusp of change, or perhaps the same moment repeated with different people in an endless cycle? The unspecific use of “you” threaded through out the album creates fuzzy silhouettes for the listener to project their own entanglements onto. This is both most moving and apparent in the last track, Days of Candy, in which the repetition of the lyric “I know it comes too soon, the universe is riding off with you” brings the song and Depression Cherry to a close. Alongside the lyrics, the instrumentals are generally what one has come to expect from Beach House – quintessential dream pop. However, there is a rawness, an earthy-ness, and a humanity to the stripped down vocals and organ that their more recent body of work cloaks in synthesized sound. The second track, Sparks, is jarring with a discordant, pulsating intro, discordant being a word I never would have previously ascribed to Beach House. What holds all of these diaphanous sounds and melancholy moments together is the plush, yet stark, red velvet of the sleeve. A more fitting choice to represent all that lies within this album could not have been made. It’s more feeling than denotation, both tactile and indescribable. Victoria Legrand said that “depression” and “cherry” came to her brain through her mouth, both words together and inseparable. The title is such an apt embodiment of the album – nebulous yet precisely poignant, mournful yet light, and the transience of human existence exhibited through the infinitely repetitious common ground of human experience.

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