Beach House - Depression Cherry - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Beach House - Depression Cherry

by Justin Pearson Rating:9 Release Date:2015-08-28

As the Baltimore-based duo Beach House, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have been steadfast guardians of a magic formula, their by-now-perfected take on dream-pop: a radiating heat that slow-burns its way across a genre they've come to epitomize with a standard-setting any contemporary would be wise to look to for proper schooling. Their music is of the highest order: ethereal, spiritual, and thoughtful.

Nothing's ever truly wasted on a Beach House track. Their consistency of sound has followed them through to their fifth album, Depression Cherry, and at this point we can safely deem them a band worthy of the utmost veneration.

Especially with last two albums Teen Dream and Bloom, Beach House have proven they possess a divining rod capable of tapping into a wellspring of dynamite. Resting upon this altar they've built, Depression Cherry sits firmly in place. While not as expansive as the last two firework displays, it's big in its own way - widescreen in scope with simple-cut borders framing the complex feeling within, which is what all great music should do.

Depression Cherry sizzles and burns, its principal power lying in its searing ability, locking in melodies with characteristic subtlety and nuance. Two prime examples are 'Levitation' and 'Beyond Love.' The former leads the album with Legrand's beckoning pull: "You should see/ there's a place I want to take you." You trust and follow her to what could easily work as a Beach House catch-phrase summing up their aesthetic: "On the bridge/ levitating 'cause we want to/ when the unknown will surround you/ there is no right time." A break in the middle makes way for synth-bursts that zap you into submission, gladly handing over control in the face of its loftiness. On the latter track, Scally's guitar repeatedly crackles upward like a flickering wick then disappears in a wispy smoke trail. Legrand's heavy, commanding organ makes it feel sacred, holy - it's the aural equivalent of a temple being constructed.

'Sparks' is reflectively discordant, emulating the chaos of fire through Legrand's minor-keyed organ and Scally's fuzzy, distorted guitar. It's a hot ember, and their most intense song yet.

'PPP' perfectly matches the figure-eight/ice-skating imagery of the lyrics with a melody that confidently waltzes and sways in a delicate stride across the song's clear, frozen surface. Scally's sliding guitar eventually lets loose and sharply cuts through the freeze, crossing back and forth/left to right in a dizzying dance that sends water crystals of emotions reeling. It calls to mind his quivering, frenzied guitar from Teen Dream's 'Silver Soul.'

The haunted, pregnant pauses that gave Bloom's 'Irene' its anticipatory aura can be found on '10:37.' But here they're tighter, closer together and sped up. This feeling is heightened by a holding-back that echoes between the spaces of the marshalled beats provided by the rap-tap-tapping drum machine. Its lilting ghostliness is also reflected in the lyrics: "Where you go/ she casts no shadow/ still you know she's near."

'Space Song' shares a similar, slippery guitar line not too unlike the memorable, wobble/twitch hook that Scally used to stunning effect on Bloom's 'The Hours', making it one of that album's best tracks. It's a familiar, signature moment that makes this song become something delectable and sweet even in the face of Legrand's lovelorn singing: "Tender is the night for a broken heart/ Who will dry your eyes when it falls apart/ What makes this fragile world go round/ Were you ever lost/ Was she ever found?"

Referring to the album's title, they were recently quoted as saying this: "For us, 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…" You can feel this color and energy throughout the album; each song a piece of kindling lending glow to the bonfire it becomes, a sort of beacon in a dry desert.

Fitting as an end-moment, a gothic, church-like choir opens album closer 'Days Of Candy.' Like all their music up to this point - or any really good album for that matter - this song and Depression Cherry as a whole is a spell that binds, if only for a short while. Legrand and Scally have waved their wand and granted a wish for more of their wizardry. The only downside is that you wish it would hold for longer. And in case you need to be told, Legrand reminds you of this bitter fact when she sings "Just like that it's gone."

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