Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally of Beach House have had quite the successful run thus far. The Baltimore dream pop darlings have grown a bigger fan base with each new release. Teen Dream, their third record, was the precise moment when people really started to take notice of the talented musicians. The title in itself promised a warm, blissful daydream, and that’s what we were given. Following up was the theatrical and enjoyable, Bloom, a continuation of their trademark atmosphere. Now on to their fifth LP, it seems as if the two were aware that they could only take their style so far. Depression Cherry sounds like an experiment in both style and lyricism. At a fairly short nine tracks, it feels like a different kind of daydream. While some may frown at the departure they’ve taken, their risks have payed off with one of the most enjoyable and unique pop albums of the year.
Where their first albums were all about emotional, sweeping landscapes, Depression Cherry has been simplified and stripped down. The lack of drums and focus on more melodic instrumentation results in a continuous motion. The opener, “Levitation,” fulfills this notion, informing us of a mysterious place that they want to take us. It’s reminiscent of their dreamy work, although a tad less sweet and syrupy. Toward the end, there are multiple vocal tracks laid on top of each other that sound so great. It’s climactic, but in a more subtle manner. “Sparks” utilizes distorted guitar on the chorus, which may come off as abrasive to some and seem like it’s disrupting the calmness. It’s easily one of the more unexpectedly different moments. Listen to the lyrics a few more times, however, and the catchiness becomes increasingly evident.
“Space Song” is excellent. If there’s any song on this record that you’d want to fall asleep to, it’s this one. The textures are as rich as anything else from their portfolio. It makes you wonder how it took them five albums to make it. As the title alludes, gazing up at the night sky with this song playing in the background is a formula for an instance trance-like state. “Beyond Love” has a hook that sounds like Beach House channeling The Magnetic Fields or Future Bible Heroes, which is absolutely a compliment. “10:37” is one of the weaker songs and that’s only due to the fact that the instrumentation feels more mundane than lush.
“PPP” has one of the most instantly recognizable melodies, though it does sound like it would belong on a Ducktails record. While it’s completely normal for atmospheric records to meddle with repetition, the ending perhaps could’ve been cut a little shorter and nobody would have been terribly upset. The album’s closer, “Days of Candy,” has these background vocal harmonies that match impeccably well with Legrand’s voice. It’s close to the epic climaxes from Bloom or Teen Dream, but there’s a hint of somberness. “The universe is riding off with you” is the final line, and it’s the image of something vast and beautiful in contrast with a more personal element that summarizes Depression Cherry in a nutshell.
With Beach House, every record of theirs is inseparable in terms of their tracks. Rather than focusing on which song reigns supreme, it’s best to play their music in the most comfortable of environments, such as the bedroom. Having someone to listen with is also a plus. Turn off all the lights, play Depression Cherry at any volume you see fit, and let the crisp vocals and melodic structure transport you to its dreamlike world. Fans of the duo may be turned off by the lack of complexity, but it has more than a fair share of emotional depth. With some of their most mature lyricism yet and a satisfying approach to ethereal indie pop, it’s difficult to picture Depression Cherry not putting a smile on someone’s face.