18 Aug 2015

Beach House "Depression Cherry"

Reviewed by Elizabeth Klisiewicz

Beach House is a group I’ve loosely followed over the years, always admiring their beautiful songs and skill in playing and creating such dreamy confections. Depression Cherry is no exception, though it seems the band has stripped down the sound a bit. Songs are a bit less ornate and inhabit the same sonic space as Stereolab, Death and Vanilla, and maybe even Air. It was produced and recorded with the help of longtime collaborator Chris Coady (Future Islands, Wavves) at Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana.

The band claims this release is more aggressive, and I am not clear on what that means exactly. It seems like the same mannered dream pop to me, with vintage echoes of great 50s/60s pop and a modern sensibility. It is cinematic dream pop for hipsters, but it goes far beyond that in its accomplishments. French-born Victoria Legrand and Baltimore native Alex Scally serve up finely honed compositions with Victoria’s achingly lovely voice swirling around deceptively simple melodies. “Levitation” would be a hit if there was justice in the music world. I really dig how it builds from simple melodic lines and never loses sight of its basic patterns, even while instruments are dropped into the mix here and there. It is a sparkling gem on a four diamond record, and Victoria has never sounded better. Aching and heartfelt vocals married to lovely music is a match made in dream pop heaven. “Sparks” starts off like a School of Seven Bells piece, but moves away from that sound with an almost prog rock feel from the keyboards. It makes its way slowly and gracefully through your head, where it will stay lodged for hours. I also like the way they added slightly distorted guitar to the mix, letting it fade in and out at will. “Space Song” is classic Beach House, instantly evoking not only their past releases but also diving into that deep pool of vintage pop that defines their sound. “Beyond Love” has a slow chugging beat with loud guitar pumping it up, and when Victoria’s cool, elegant voice drifts in, it is pure nirvana.

I like the clock like percussion on “10:37”, along with the lush keyboard washes wrapping themselves around Victoria’s beautiful voice like a cloak. “PPP” is stunning work from start to finish, it has a watery texture to it and comes as close to perfect dream pop as anything I can imagine. Plus it builds to some cool slide guitar! “Bluebird” starts with a click track and a somber feeling, but Victoria once again elevates the song to something special, her voice can be so magical and soothing. And finally, “Days of Candy” begins as acapella with perfect harmonies and reminds me strongly of sacred music, with Victoria’s splendid alto and the layers of backing vocals and quiet piano. Just a perfect ending to this year’s most beautiful record.

Available on vinyl here (UK/EU) and here (US), and CD here (UK/EU), and here (US).

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