Over the course of four albums, Baltimore’s premier dream pop duo Beach House has most definitely found their niche in slow, graceful tunes filled with pulsing synths, sliding guitars and echoing vocals. While it’s apparent that band members Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have grown very comfortable in said niche, it’s always exciting when bands change up their sound and venture into uncharted territory. Fans were excited at the prospect of Beach House trying something a little different, even if the development was relatively small.
Unfortunately, their new album, “Depression Cherry” finds that Beach House stood steadfast instead of taking steps forward into a slightly different sound as so many of their fans had anxiously anticipated. At points, it will sound as though they are simply playing it safe. However, the lack of a brand new sound does not make “Depression Cherry” a bad record.
The record opens with “Levitation,” which consists of the familiar sounds of an echoing synthesizer paired intimately with Legrand’s alluring vocals. The beat change in the middle really pushes the track forward. The song stays true to its title, making the listener feel as though they’re floating upwards, being invited warmly by a voice promising, “there’s a place I want to take you.” The floaty, almost angelic mood crafted by this track sets a tone for the rest of the album.
The album continues its strong start with tracks “Sparks,” “Space Song” and “Beyond Love.” These tracks are Beach House at its finest, capturing a dreamlike atmosphere through textured sounds that leak through speakers like a slow, sweet syrup. Each song contributes evenly to constructing a slow, serene pace that envelops the listener with relaxing waves of textured tones.
It is after this strong start that “Depression Cherry” begins to lose its footing. Tracks like “10 : 37,” “Bluebird” and “Wildflower” taper off, wandering aimlessly and ending abruptly without any sort of payoff. These songs feel bare and unfinished, indistinct, without any memorable qualities to keep it lodged in your brain. “10 : 37” is easily the worst offender of this feeling as it meticulously treads the line between soothing and just plain boring. The lack of substance leaves the latter half of the record without polish and is certainly the weak point of Depression Cherry” and leads to several songs feeling as though they’re unfinished.
It’s the waltzy ballad “PPP” and grand finale “Days of Candy” that save the back half of the album. The daydreamy melody of “PPP” and celestial sounds of “Days of Candy” both sound like songs that have been lovingly produced and perfected by Beach House. The strong finish tries its hardest to make up for a lackluster back half and ultimately succeeds through the cosmic choir sounds of “Days of Candy.”
While “Depression Cherry” may not stand out high above the rest of their discography, it is still successful in combining many of the best elements of their previous efforts into a single refined piece of work. There are more than enough songs on the album for fans, both new and old, to fall in love with. Older fans of Beach House will undoubtedly be entranced by the familiarity of the sounds held within “Depression Cherry” that they’ve come to expect and love. Despite this fact, many fans still won’t be able to help but wonder, where does this band go from here?