I’ve always had a pretty strange relationship with Beach House. Contrary to popular opinion, their first two albums, “Devotion” and in particular their magnificent self-titled debut are my favorites by them, while their two most acclaimed works, “Teen Dream” and “Bloom,” didn’t do much for me. 2010’s “Teen Dream” saw them clean up their lo-fi sound that was so great about their first two records, and in the process, lose a lot of the hazy atmosphere. Also, the debut just brought the tunes to go along with the dreamy haze, while their last two efforts didn’t have any songs as memorable as “Master of None,” “Auburn and Ivory,” or “Gila.” So, going into this brand new album, I was still expecting a pleasant experience, but one that would once again not match up to the criminally underrated debut. However, in many ways, “Depression Cherry” sees them returning to their more haunting, strung out, nostalgic, and dreamy roots while mixing in some more varied sounds, ideas, and influences, and all of this leads to Beach House’s crowning achievement, and one of the very best albums of the year.
This isn’t exactly a “getting back to the basement” album though. Very few moments on this record actually hearken back to the simple ‘guitar+organ+drum machine+vocals=song’ formula of the first two records, but in a more abstract way this album has more common with those records than “Teen Dream” and “Bloom.” Their last two tried to be bigger, more ambitious affairs, adding more instrumentation and color, but “Depression Cherry” is totally content by itself and on its own merits. And sound wise, the album is a little more lo-fi and less clean cut than those two as well. The sound here is extremely hazy and strung out and washed with reverb, making the listener quite literally feel as though they are floating. The atmosphere here is simply breathtaking and so weirdly nostalgic, even though its only been out for two days. But it takes a special album to conjure up those feelings even though I have no personal connections to it yet. Through its lush, impeccably produced and echoey soundscapes, “Depression Cherry” cooks up images of an 80s inspired night out in the same way Grimes’s “Oblivion” did so well back in 2012.
Beach House doesn’t just bring the atmosphere though. While that is a huge draw of the album, the songs are what have kept me coming back to it again and again. These are Beach House’s most lush and beautifully written songs yet, and over the course of the record, there are many tear jerking spots, and not because they’re outwardly sad or anything, but just because they’re so breathtakingly gorgeous. More importantly though, these songs are extremely memorable. Track for track, the chord progressions are gorgeous, and Victoria LeGrand’s breathy vocals float over them wonderfully, always finding the perfect melody, and also displaying so much emotion even the songs are so non-lyric focused.
This has been my hardest review to write by far. (And you can probably tell.) It’s nearly impossible to describe this album, and more importantly, why it’s so magnificent. The emotions it conjures up cannot be described either. The sound here is hard to grasp; its nearly intangible, as it, per genre name, feels like a dream. A really lovely dream, full of darkness contrasted with light, love, longing, and drum machines. Lots of drum machines.
P.S.- Yeah, that was some bullshit. Just listen to the album and you’ll maybe get what I’m saying.
Standout Tracks: “Levitation” “Space Song” “10:37” “PPP” “Days of Candy”