Beach House (photo by Shawn Brackbill, PR)
Since the duo’s self-titled debut in 2006, Beach House has become synonymous with sonically elegant, melodically rich and emotionally driven dreampop music. With their fifth album, Depression Cherry, Beach House has again crafted an atmosphere of romance, desire and melancholy. This time, they’ve done so by getting back to basics, following their instincts, and bucking any preconceived trends.
The Baltimore-based Beach House is singer and keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist Alex Scally. While the duo’s increased critical and commercial success has given them the freedom to explore the depth and dynamics of their music, over the years they’ve swerved to a noisier, bolder place, what the band cites in their bio as “far from our natural tendencies.”
Legrand and Scally are ready to move on, reverting to a quieter approach. The simpler songs on Depression Cherry are reliant on melody and not on dense layers of instrumentation. Drums have been mostly banished. Rather than reinventing themselves, Beach House’s Legrand and Scally have adjusted their landscape. Airy and subtle, but never in jeopardy of floating away, the nine songs settle like a film score (coincidentally, Legrand is the niece of French composer Michel Legrand).
On Depression Cherry, Legrand’s sleepy, wispy vocals are luxuriously bathed in both programmed and live synthesizers, guitars, and percussion. The album’s opening song, “Levitation,” proclaims, “There’s a place I want to take you,” and with that, Beach House’s moodier journey begins. Still, Scally’s gently distorted guitar provides some friction in “Sparks” while his slide guitar guides the majestically woozy “Space Song.”
The glacial beauty of “10:37” finds its footing with sparse percussion and “Days Of Candy” is layered with gorgeous harmonies and sweeping synthesizers. The cryptic, unhurried “PPP” fashions a dreamscape that encapsulates the grand terrain that Beach House often traverses. As far as packaging is concerned, Depression Cherry looks as elegant as it sounds. The physical album is housed in decadent flocked red velvet, reminiscent of the Bee Gees’ 1969 album, Odessa.
Beach House's Legrand and Scally continue to evolve with Depression Cherry, an album that is reminiscent of a place they once were, as a young band. But they're not trying to recapture old glories or copy past formulas either; instead, Beach House has found a persuasive way to refashion their more ambient ideas.