Beach House: Depression Cherry (2015)
written by – Tyler Tippin
Among the hazy synths, reverb, soft percussion, and dreamy vocals, Beach House stands as one of the most prominent dream pop groups of the 21st century without a doubt. The Baltimore two-piece has been seen alongside many contemporaries throughout their 12-year long career, but none of them have been able to capture the impressive momentum Beach House has repeatedly exceeded with each release. In 2015, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally followed up on their very-well received 2012 release of Bloom with a simpler arrangement of awe-inspiring songs with Depression Cherry.
Clocking in around 45 minutes, this album quickly intoxicates with the melodramatic beauty of their previous LP’s while still maintaining a progressive approach that easily separates it from the predecessors. Depression Cherry focuses heavily on atmosphere rather than complex construction as seen in the past. In some respects, their swooning atmosphere is what the group is best at in terms of their inspiration. This isn’t to discredit the brilliance of many arrangements on many of the tracks on here including “Sparks”, “Wildflower”, and “Beyond Love”. The percussion is soft, and paves a path for the colossal tones of the drugged synths and Legrand’s superb vocal capabilities to drive each song into the melodramatic clouds that Beach House has perfected over their career. I have never seen the duo perform live, but I imagine it’d feel a bit like watching a Lynchian film on a lot of painkillers. Legrand’s voice floats in and out of each track in such a sweet and sad flutter that it’s hard not to be captivated by whatever they record. In a sense, Depression Cherry sounds much like what the title would suggest.
Beach House’s influences remain as prevalent as ever on this LP as well. The ghosts of Nico, My Bloody Valentine, and Cocteau Twins make themselves well known here and there throughout the album. The band is definitely a very inspired group who do justice to those that implanted many of the musical ideas that they strive at. A certain mood looms around the entire album though. The repeated dizzying effect is implemented on every song, which makes it sound like you’ve heard almost everything of what the LP has to offer by the time it’s halfway through. This isn’t Beach House’s most innovative release, but that most likely wasn’t the intention. The final product is an echoed array of lovely tunes that stands as one of 2015’s freshest atmospheric pop albums.
Personally, I think the album is great. It’s not necessarily something that I’d listen to repeatedly for any amount of time, but I find it most accessible on rainy days when I have a nice cup of coffee and a fine book to read. There are certain gems that really stick out to me, like “PPP” and “Bluebird”. I also feel pretty comfortable calling “Sparks” one of my favorite songs of the previous year. Sub Pop Records is lucky to have such an accomplished duo to represent in this decade and I imagine Beach House will continue to surprise and subdue fans through the rest of the 2010’s. It should be noted that less than two weeks after the release of Depression Cherry, Beach House released another full-length entitled Thank Your Lucky Stars which is equally deserving of a full listen. As it stands, Depression Cherry is an impressive addition to the successful and mesmerizing discography of one of Baltimore’s dreamiest pop groups.