Beach House is a project of Victoria Legrand & Alex Scally from Baltimore, Maryland. Known for their unique sound, Legrand’s vocals, her contribution to Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks,” their vague, yet warm feeling subject matter, some slight and unexplainable pretension, and that time The Weeknd sampled them a bunch on House of Balloons, and quite masterly so, Beach House return with their fifth record, Depression Cherry.
Equipped with a tour, a slew of festivals lined up, and the option to “choose which single from Depression Cherry is right for you” on their setlist creator website, this new, playful Beach House seemed very Yo La Tengo like to me, until the pretension sits in, and the image becomes a little warped. In what they write on their official Sub Pop page as, “a return to simplicity,” on Depression Cherry, due to “live drums playing a far lesser role,” it’s the first time I’ve ever heard digital drums and drum samplers described as a “return to simplicity.”
Despite the name of the record, Depression Cherry, the themes aren’t centered around depression or even any dark or saddening material really at all. If it’s not about watching your life get back on track, like on “Space Song,” while simultaneously experiencing very close and passionate feelings of love, then it’s just another Beach House record, like Teen Dream or Bloom, just with more electric guitar this time around.
“With the growing success of Teen Dream and Bloom,” says the band, “the larger stages and bigger rooms naturally drove us towards a louder, more aggressive place; a place farther from our natural tendencies. Here, we continue to let ourselves evolve while fully ignoring the commercial context in which we exist.” And it all sounds great if not for the fact that after listening to Depression Cherry, this explanation of their sound progression or evolution of existence is almost completely non-existent.
Take album opener, “Levitation.” “Levitation” is as close to the concept of a Beach House song as I could possibly imagine. It fits the template, the sound, and could have easily been on any of the last three records, let alone a supposed evolution of their sound, “from their natural tendencies.” If anything, Depression Cherry is just Beach House + some tracks have electric guitar on them.
The thing about Depression Cherry, or Beach House in general, to me, is just that it’s another Beach House record that’s yet again not as good as Teen Dream. It might just be my nostalgic love for Teen Dream talking, mixed with my feelings that any record that has the same sound as Teen Dream is immediately denied greatness in my brain, refusing to even have it be comparable to Teen Dream, but that’s just how it is for me.