Arts & CultureMusic

Beach House’s “Depression Cherry” a sweeping, cinematic voyage

For a successful band, selling out and going commercial may seem like an easy path to take, but Beach House has made it clear that they are not in the game for anyone but themselves and their fans.

The band proclaims in a statement released by its label, SubPop, “[…] 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.”

Beach House, the Baltimore duo composed with Victoria LeGrand and Alex Scally, goes out of its way to please its fans. The band has installed a democratic option for fans under the “setlist creators” tab on the tour website. Those attending the show can elect which songs they’d like to hear from Beach House, the votes of which directly inform the band’s setlist.

On Depression Cherry, the band keeps its promise in returning to older styles without coming off as stagnant, digressive, or cloned. The LP is automatically familiar and delivers the droning, gliding, romantic dream-pop familiar to older releases, though still presents itself as an evolution of the duo’s sound.

LeGrand’s crystalline and golden, sultry vocals melt over organs, chiming guitar and bass-heavy synthesizer in a commonplace way for Beach House. For the most part, Depression Cherry retreats from the live drum tracks that made its predecessor, Bloom, bigger and more “aggressive” sounding, as the band stated.

The release even borrows electronic drum tracks from previous releases. “Space Song” uses the drum track from “Walk In The Park,” a song from the band’s 2010 LP Teen Dream, which creates an enjoyable connection for longtime fans and tucking in even more familiarity. “Fall back into place,” LeGrand repeats in throughout the song as her vocals echo over and seep into each other. Throughout the ten tracks, Beach House seems to effortlessly be doing just that.

Although Depression Cherry isn’t necessarily as loud as Bloom on the surface, the release still retains the sweeping, cinematic factor that makes the band so enjoyable to listen to in the first place.

Though structurally simple, the album still creates a complex atmosphere, weaving a sensual and intimate ambiance into each track. This intimacy is reflected through both beautiful instrumentation and the creation of a sense of musical landscape. Beach House paints a haze-filled, sun-speckled picture similar to other groups that share their genre (Slowdive, Asobi Seksu, older releases from M83), but the overly amorous and passionate overtones of each slide on Scally’s guitar neck (“Beyond Love”) or purr of LeGrand’s vocals (“Days of Candy”) are what easily place Beach House within the top ranks of their peers.

The lush soundscapes of Depression Cherry definitely have the power to make its listeners zone out, but will also leave them engaged long after the last track has come to an end.

Depression Cherry was released on Aug. 28 on SubPop and will be available for download and streaming on Spotify and iTunes as well.

Listen to a stream of the full album from NPR Music below.


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Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell is the Digital Managing Editor for The Daily Emerald. She is currently studying journalism and philosophy at the University of Oregon. Before her current position, she worked as an Arts and Culture writer for the Emerald. She's also worked with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Eugene Weekly, Ethos Magazine and OR Magazine.