1 Sep 2015

Beach House / Depression Cherry (album review)

Commercially and critically speaking, Beach House are probably the most renowned dream-pop band of the last few years. After breaking out with their third album Teen Dreams, and building on that with a solid follow up in 2012's Bloom, Beach House have built themselves a huge audience, and have been, in part, responsible for the widespread reemergence of dream-pop and shoegaze as underground music.

Friday saw the release of their fifth record, Depression Cherry, which before its release, looked to have all the right ingredients to further Beach House's sound and build on their critical and commercial success. With the quirky, instantly memorable name, instantly classic cover, and a lead single that was both brilliant and intriguing in Sparks, the duo had primed themselves to release a record that lived up to their reputation.

Sparks itself was still very much routed in dream-pop, and those woozy vocals from Victoria Legrande that characterise their earlier albums, but it's incredibly raw, and about as stripped down as something of this style of music can be. At 6 minutes, it's no instant pop hit, but it was a brilliant primer to the album. This could have been the most innovative, different album from the band, if they used it as a platform to experiment in the same way that they did on Sparks… but did they? That's a tough question, to which the answer is kinda.

You see, Beach House haven't really changed a whole lot up, and for that reason it's not as excited a release as I thought it would have been as I read an interview with the band in Crack magazine, but that doesn't stop it being a really lovely record to lose yourself in. Quite a bit of it does fall into the category of being inoffensive-BBC-advert-soundbed music, but then there are times where the two-piece mix it up a nice amount. Wildflower sees an interesting ticking drum machine sounds paired with some hypnotic, oscillating synthesisers, masterfully creating a really hypnotic atmosphere. Again, the third track on the album Space Song uses more interesting synth parts than the rest of the record, which again shows glimpses of the brilliance that they dealt out full pelt on the Teen Dreams album.
Beach House's songs have always had often mesmerising structures that kind of allow their heavenly sound to wash through bit by bit, which meant that Teen Dreams was a really, really brilliant album that I still can't fault to date. And it would be unfair to keep comparing the artistic merits of this one to the artistic merits of that one, but it's a good comparison point, because on Teen Dreams you just don't have to deal with 5 minute long dud tracks. But on Depression Cherry there are weak tracks; like PPP (I'm not sure what it's about but triple P must be something because every time I write 'pop' on my iPod it gets corrected to it) are incredibly boring, because the track itself just isn't up to much, but the fact it's just not up to much for 6 minutes makes it almost painful.

Another thing I'd say is that after one listen of this album, you've kinda heard it all; there's not really a lot going on that you'll newly pick up on after your second, third and fourth listens, and I guess whilst that's not a terrible thing, it means that this album that promised so much doesn't really deliver a lot over a long period of time.

It's almost unfair for me to criticise this so much, because if albums by bands like DIIV and Beach Fossils were this good, I'd have nothing but good things to say, but Beach House are capable of much better stuff. I've got a feeling they've still got a game changing album in the pipeline, but this isn't it. Like all their other stuff, it's good to just sonically drown in, and is best listened to when you're a on a bit of a downer with lots of overpowering incense to burn, but this album could have done with a lot more experimentation, and maybe a few less songs. But either way. It's still a solid album, and it's not made me any less excited for where they go next.


hear depression cherry here and make up your own mind