Beach House: more of the same, in the best way

Andy Frakes

“Depression Cherry,” the fifth full-length studio album from dream pop duo Beach House, is synonymous with “cool.” It would pair nicely with a mild buzz and an expensive hi-fi system, spinning smoothly under the needle while the air in the living room gets hazier and hazier.

Can someone open a window? And can you get your shoes off the couch?re-img-beach-house_201153179550

The songs fade in and out, occasionally percussive but only to a head-bobbing level. One could definitely dance dreamily, a few drinks deep, to the beat of “Space Song,” but more likely you’ll find yourself reclined, head back, fingers keeping rhythm on the arm of your chair.

“Depression Cherry” is simply that kind of album.

Fans of Tame Impala will find a lot to love here. The sleepy but clean vocals of Victoria Legrand, the 70s-style slide guitar, timeless backing organ chords—it’s all there. Beach House would have been a force 40 years ago, and they are a force today, much like their throwback counterparts in the current indie scene.

There isn’t a whole lot to the music; it sounds deep and thick, but it’s still just two people. Legrand and her counterpart, Alex Scally, cover the synthesizer, guitar, drums and vocals in the studio. Cover them so completely, in fact, that most of their tracks sound like the proverbial jar filled with rocks, then sand, then water. Completely full and saturated with sound.

The songs themselves—with names like “Days Of Candy,” “Levitation” and “Sparks”—are what they sound like: sleepy, soft, calm, mellow. There aren’t any fast dance tracks. There aren’t any songs I’d jog to. But that probably isn’t what you’re checking out Beach House for anyway.

For these reasons, “Depression Cherry” isn’t likely to receive a lot of radio play, at least not outside of student-run campus stations. The music is suited to a living room; it isn’t suited for the loudspeakers of the grocery store. Following in a long line of indie-pop albums, this one will likely be released, purchased by every savvy twenty-somethings who owns record players, and streamed on Spotify by the ones who don’t. If Spotify ever makes it available, that is. Beach House has their demographic figured out.

Beach House isn’t breaking any new ground here. But the truth is that I like the album, and I liked the last one, and I’ll probably like the next one too.

Bands who are successful maintaining their course in a genre tend to build stable fanbases, due to their own musical reliability—if you’ve ever heard these guys before and enjoyed it, this album is for you. People don’t go to McDonald’s looking for a new McDouble, do they?

“Depression Cherry” is available to stream through NPR First Listen, and will hopefully drop soon elsewhere.

Very soon.