When we first created PressPLAY, our M.O. (which can still be found littered somewhere on the internet) was simple: we’d cover anything ‘from Beyoncé to Beach House‘. That’s the impact Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have pretty much had, both on us personally and the musical landscape before them. If Bey is our Alpha, they are the Omega.
They’re also very good at framing the mood of their records with a title. Teen Dream was a hazy, resplendent burst of their trademark dream-pop, and Bloom furthered that by letting their sound spread its wings with confidence. Depression Cherry, it’s fair to say, is a more inward-looking record to find a sweet spot, which the band themselves proffer as being stripped back to simpler songs and structures.
“After midnight we can feel it all,” sings Legrand in that idiosyncratic tone on first track Levitation. It’s so resolutely Beach House – the pattern of keys, the chord progression – that there’s almost a question about knowing self-parody (this is, after all, a band that have chosen to illustrate the name of their album on Twitter with cherry emojis). That feeling soon disappears when Legrand sings “the branches of the trees, they will hang lower now/ you will grow too quick, then you will get over it”, as their clarity and intent is resolute. It also makes for a rather pointed comment on the music industry, even though the ultimate feeling it leaves you with is one of being positively afloat.
Like our other indie beloved Sufjan Stevens, every song on a Beach House record is richly layered in meaning and form. Melodically, they’re not wrong in saying they’ve stripped back, as they focus here on the simplicity they perfected on Teen Dream – Space Song is carried by the, well, space given to Legrand between Scally’s dreamlike guitar. It’s such transparency that helps even throwaway lines like “tender is the night for a broken heart” hit so hard on an album already steeped in so much melancholy.
But where Sufjan bared his diary and Bjork chose drama, Beach House complete this magnificent trilogy of heartbreak by taking us through the trance of pain and the dichotomy of emotion it brings. “They take the simple things inside you and put nightmares in your hands,” Beyond Love tells us. 10:37‘s organ feels both bridal and funereal at once. Bluebird – an album and career highlight – talks about a beautiful creature’s freedom potentially leading to the gallows. It’s that treacherous balance of light and shade, of sweetness and pain, that makes the title Depression Cherry seem so perfect. In one decisive swoop of a record (crystallised in the haunting choral finale Days of Candy), Beach House have yet again captured the fickle vagaries of human emotion better than anyone else we know. Buy this immediately.
Depression Cherry by Beach House can be ordered here.