Beach House sparks minimalistic bliss in ‘Depression Cherry’

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Beach House/Courtesy

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Depression Cherry opens with a droning synth on a keyboard an unwavering hum under the many ornamentations of sound that would soon appear.

“You,” vocalist Victoria Legrand breathily sings in the first moments of “Levitation,” the first track on the album.

Beach House’s latest release is not at all like its last two albums. Where Bloom was instrumentally lush, Depression Cherry is monkishly sparse. Where Teen Dream’s dynamic rhythms kept listeners dancing, Depression Cherry lets go of drums completely. It’s not difficult to see why some once-faithful fans might have listened to the album with a touch of disappointment, questioning where the dream-pop duo they once knew had gone.

Yet, if you listen more closely, you’ll find that Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally are present in the music, right here and now.

The album is hauntingly magical — even if its charm is difficult to spot at first glance. Give the 10-song compilation another chance, however, and you’ll find yourself entranced by the easy intimacy that shines through every layer of Legrand’s voice. You’ll find yourself listening for Scally’s piercing guitar lines, a rhythmic constant against the abstract, airy sounds of the album.

Although the album is largely characteristic of Beach House’s old style, some songs try out a style even more minimalistic than before.

“Beyond Love” begins with a dreamy, instrumental sequence reminiscent of slower Bloom pieces. Drums, although subdued, introduce the melody on “10:37” and play a driving rhythm throughout the drawn-out song. Scally’s distorted guitar on “Sparks” inserts itself between all the old tricks, surprising us as Scally evokes the perfect shoegaze sound.

The duo strips their music down to almost nothing on “Days of Candy,” with less instrumentation than even their Devotion-era works. The layers of Legrand’s angelic voice create that extra dimension listeners have loved to slip into time and again. She begins with a reassurance that “no one will find you,” ensuring our escape from everyday life into the bliss of Beach House’s world.

Funnily enough, the album is almost exactly the escape Legrand searches for in “Sparks.” In the most daring song on the album, she expresses being constrained by following “all the rules” without being able to do what your heart truly desires.

Beach House, perhaps, is tired of being limited by their previous style. Now, they are departing from what they once knew — what they had grown so adept at — in order to try something new. They might even be all the better for it.

In case we doubted the duo, Legrand stresses near the end of the track that, indeed, you do come “back again” and “you live again” — just like a spark.

 

Contact Eda Yu at[email protected].