Depression Cherry (Sub Pop / Bella Union)
When it comes to bands that rose to prominence in the mid-00s, you’d be hard pushed to find one still going, let alone having the kind of crowd pull and general kudos that resides with Baltimore duo Beach House.
In the case of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, the trick to this longevity seems to be the ability to shift with the ever moving musical tide whilst retaining something that remains quintessentially distinctive. Not easy, but something that Beach House have proved remarkably adept at, and this has resulted in the band trailing a near decade long career with album number five in tow.
Depression Cherry is unmistakably a Beach House record. The moment Legrand’s soft synths rise into the foreground at the beginning of aptly titled opener ‘Levitation’, you know exactly who you’re dealing with. But before long it becomes apparent Depression Cherry isn’t what could be considered a ‘standard’ Beach House album. All the hallmarks are there, but the sonics are drawn out and softened, and the experience is like discovering a secret, serene cave behind a cascading waterfall.
‘Sparks’ gathers pace with an echo chamber vocal loop as Scally’s guitar line sheers of pieces of melody and fires them back into the mix. But the would-be chaos is tempered by the chunky synth refrain and Legrand’s etherial vocals. It’s an expertly executed yin/yang of atmospherics, all the while the cyclical vocal loop resonates in the distance.
The measured ’10:37′ harbours gossamer keyboard chimes that glacially slide over a beat which sounds as though it’s emanating from a 1970s mahogany organ (which it probably is). The track conjures up an emotive wave that feels as though it could just as easily rouse you from a deep slumber as it could gently send you off into one.
‘PPP’ waltzes along with washes of 60s style surf slide guitar and reveals the Beach Boys inspired pop song construction that lies at the heart of much of Beach House’s music. ‘Days Of Candy’ strides with an understated cacophony of layered vocals that rise and fall like a long lost 10cc track and the slow burn glows like the fading end of a narcotic Keatsian dream, and serves as a delightfully soporific coda.
The tracks that make up Depression Cherry aren’t as immediate or rousing as those found on the likes of Teen Dream or Bloom, and sometimes the album has an energy that feels as though it could dissipate as soon as it arrives. But in jettisoning much of the overt energy found in their previous material, Beach House have found themselves in a subtler realm and this is something that lends Depression Cherry an artistry that the band haven’t previously tapped into. Ultimately, Depression Cherry is an ethereal, hazy cloud, and it’s nearly impossible not to get carried along with it.