How many band’s names also fit the description of their sound? Without going down a web of analysis to establish criteria in answering this question let’s skip ahead and just say the Baltimore based dream-pop band, Beach House falls would qualify as an answer. Consisting of Victoria Legrand (lead vocals, keyboard) and Alex Scally (guitar, bass pedals, keyboards, backing vocals) Beach House burst onto the scene in 2005 with their critically acclaimed, self-titled debut album, making Pitchfork’s end of the year best albums list at No. 16. They followed this up with three more full LP releases, all which were positively received from critics.
Depression Cherry marks their 5th full length album, and according to Beach House is evolution by regression. Opting for a more minimalist sound—fewer instruments and an increased focus on crafting poignant melodies. On the surface, Depression Cherry may sound like it’s meant for black-rimmed glasses wearing college students crammed in coffee shops. But beneath the “pop” part of the music is a mixture of both solitude and comfort. Depression Cherry is not for everyone, but it holds a treasure of moments if you can connect to it.
Beach House paints on a canvas with pastels-like colors. The music doesn’t grab your attention so much as it seeps into you consciousness. Songs like “Levitation” and “Sparks” beckon at the ears. Simple drum beats, keyboards and a slightly distorted guitar riff tumble out as Legrand breathlessly coalesces all the sounds together with her soft, yet subtly vociferous tones.
Beach House always seems like their meandering, but this may be their greatest trick, or rather illusion if you’re Gob Bluth. Each song has its own point to make and path to tread. Its slow motion hypnosis. Songs like “Space Song” revolve around like a neon-lit Ferris wheel. Electronic dots fit within the melodic structure like gear grooves as Legrand really does sound like her often-cited voice comparison, Mazzie Star, only with more electronic production to fill up the empty space.
The strong points of the album occur within the back to back run of “PPP” and “Wildflower.” In an interview, Alex Scally defended the bands “soft” playing, claiming they were a loud band, just not in your face with it. While 99% of that argument is clear case of an artist in protection-mode of his/her craft, that other 1% of possible truth manifests itself on Depression Cherry. Maybe… No, loud was definitely the wrong descriptive choice. Prominent let’s say. The sound on some songs are prominent. “Wildflower” is a good example of that. It contains the catchiest groove—All the singular instruments and production are upfront. A floating-like slide guitar riff, the familiar two-step electronic drum loop, and organ-synths to add a hazy backdrop of texture of the melody—while not loud by any means, “Wildflower” is the very definition of Dream Pop.
Lyrically, Depression Cherry is dream-like existential trip of metaphoric phrases, questions, and declarations fit for the modern angst of today. There is a dichotic sense of loneliness within the massive overpopulated cities of the world that Scally and Legrand’s music capture. Their music is their own Beach House. A way to retreat from the world, discovering something new about their art, themselves, and their place in the world. For those who can connect with Depression Cherry, its melodies, thoughtful prose, and minimalistic structures can help clear away the daily cobwebs and clutter that may infest your own mental Beach House.