When an already abstract, heavily-conceptual and undeniably hip dream pop band announces that its newest body of work plans to “fully ignore” the influence of its past commercial successes, embrace its natural evolution and fall back to simplicity, one should expect greatness. Beach House has embraced this logical evolution in its musical style, and greatness has been delivered in the form of “Depression Cherry,” released August 28th.
The past two albums released by Beach House have been pop-y and attention-grabbing enough to warrant more than a modest taste of success: your average listener with at least a small hipster bent almost certainly has heard the more heavily-played songs like Troublemaker, Lazuli, or Myth from their 2012 album “Bloom.” Beach House’s songs are typically structured around subdued synth tones that fall into place around the thick, perfectly-controlled, and vaguely inhuman vocals of Victoria Legrand. The other half of the duo, Alex Scally, compliments these trancelike patterns and vocalizations with comfortable and predictable guitar that often bring up tastes of surf-rock.
The major compositional change in the band’s techniques for “Depression Cherry” is the album’s lack of live drumming. It reflects both the band’s commitment to musical, as well as conceptual, simplicity. The songs on this newest album are performed mostly by the original duo – those who do the thinking, feeling, and writing that all eventually end up as Beach House songs.
There is no doubt that “Depression Cherry,” like every Beach House album, is heavily (even painfully) sentimental. In this context, full of the proverbial feels, Legrand’s singing seems to take on the character of a loving figure — a mother, girlfriend, even goddess perhaps? In the album’s first track, Levitation, the listener is coddled by her vocals: she sings “there’s a place I’d like to take you,” and the connection between listener and artist is cemented only 85 seconds into the 45 minute album. Luxurious, sincere moments such as these are commonplace on “Depression Cherry,” and for this Beach House deserves my appreciation and applause.
There is a sense of intimacy and comfort in this music, palpable from the first listen. Every song is reminiscent of the clichéd romantic notion of two lovers gazing up at a star-filled night sky, or some other summery and deeply emotional scene. “Depression Cherry” speaks to the listener, as if you were the only person in the world. They beckon for you to open up and accept the melancholy that characterizes this album. You could cry to this album if you really wanted to, and it would just feel right. That’s no minor accomplishment in my book; that’s the mark of something special.