J Rothery

Beach House – Depression Cherry (ALBUM REVIEW)

Beach House Depression Cherry

I only ever listen to Beach House records when I’m in the right mood—usually before bed, almost always alone, and only when mentally at ease. Their music is incredibly meditative thanks to Victoria Legrand’s charmingly ambiguous lyrics, and while it’s inoffensive enough to work as background music, it feels wasted without my full attention.

Depression Cherry is particularly conducive to reflection in the same way that Beach House’s earlier dream-pop (the self-titled debut and Devotion) was; more dream and less pop. Yet this introspection is paradoxically escapist, in that the personal is treated with a comfortable sense of distance, because, through the lens of Scally’s floating guitars and Legrand’s lullaby-like vocals, it is all elevated into something more beautiful than perhaps it really is. Depression Cherry—as its name suggests—is especially concerned with turning the melancholy into something artful, creating a mindfully ‘beautiful’ aesthetic in which both joy and sorrow are packaged neatly together as one.

Perhaps most emblematic of the record is ‘Beyond Love’. Legrand’s weightless vocals sit upon radiant guitars and synths, professing; “I’m gonna tear off all the petals from the rose that’s in your mouth.” In “PPP” she observes; “The white clothes they gave you / You wear them so well”. Lyrically the songs are beauty-obsessed and vague enough for a listener to project upon, but distinct enough to feel genuine. ‘Space Song’ is typically sombre in a lyrical sense—”Who will dry your eyes / When it falls apart?”—but musically it is purely uplifting, even euphoric (in the non-meme sense of the word, obviously). ‘Sparks’ is more hopeful; “And then we’re vanishing / No one around / And then it comes again”. As with the rest of the record, drums sit low in the mix while vocals and guitars dominate, each gradual progression feeling momentous.

Very little in the album is abrupt, and this sonic cohesiveness is perhaps the record’s greatest success. No moment feels out of place, and no riff or lyric transgresses the Beach House brand, except perhaps for the opening moments of the record’s second song, ‘Sparks’. The bold shoegaze riff dominates the washed-out lyrics and at first seems atypical—when released as a single, fans wondered whether the band had gone in a new, more My Bloody Valentine-y direction—but the song quickly takes on the typical Beach House structure, gradually adding layers of synths and drums that relativise the aggression of the guitars. In this way, ‘Sparks’ really only taunts change without actually bringing it, and the Beach House sound is ultimately preserved.

Moments like these could easily be perceived as a letdown and criticised as more of the same, but for a longtime fan like myself Depression Cherry is instead intensely comforting; another meditative and consciously ‘beautiful’ experience.

9/10

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