Aug 24, 2015 Issue #54 - August/September 2015 - CHVRCHES
Oh, the burden of expectations. After a promising self-titled debut, and then two consecutive knockouts in 2010's Teen Dream and 2012's Bloom (which must go on the shortlist of most beautiful albums of the 21st century), one could forgive Beach House a clunker. Depression Cherry (despite one of the worst album titles of the 21st century) is no such thing. The band shows growth, though not all of it positive, while expanding on their signature sound.
At times, Beach House seems determined to add a new wrinkle to their proven formula. There's an aggressiveness that's at odds with the pristine sound that has come to signify Beach House. The first single, "Sparks," is perhaps the best example of this, with an atonal organ flirting with a scratchy guitar. It doesn't coalesce in the right way, never quite coming together. Though it would appear to signal a new direction, it is not emblematic of Depression Cherry as a whole. "Beyond Love" is cut from the same cloth, and sounds like an outtake from the A Clockwork Orange soundtrack, with '60s synths and a screeching guitar. "10:37" is built around a thudding beat, but it's soon joined by a thoughtful organ and a guitar part that would make Robert Smith weep. Neither takes as big a leap from where Bloom left off as "Sparks." The aggressiveness is a new toy, and the band doesn't quite know what to make of it, though the woodpecker tapping at the outset of "Bluebird" shows how it might progress, as the rhythm breaks up and gives way but the tension remains.
Elsewhere, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally conjure up classic Beach House magic. As with many of their best songs, it takes a while for the lyrics to work their way out of the ether and into your brain. "You built a city/All in your head," Legrand sings on the fantastic "Wildflower." "You know you're not losing your mind," she continues, but it sounds like reassurance rather than fact. As with a band four albums into a fantastic career, whatever has been built up in the mind is a difficult thing with which to contend. (www.beachhousebaltimore.com)
Author rating: 7.5/10
Average reader rating: 9/10
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