When it comes to reviewing Beach House’s fifth studio album, Depression Cherry, there seems to be no middle ground between music critics and fans. To them, the disc is either a return to or a departure from an earlier form of the dream pop band’s work.
Nevertheless, if one really were to compare Beach House’s newest album to that of their older work, then duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally are certainly taking a step in another direction, though not a far-reaching one.
Several artists have that one album in which they reinvent themselves and produce a sound that diverges from everything that they had composed before. Depression Cherry is not one of those albums. Rather than introducing new and innovative elements, Depression Cherryis a perpetuation of the celestial sound that Beach House is known for and can therefore be described as more of a “safe” album than a groundbreaking one.
Considering the framework of Beach House’s discography, Depression Cherry fails to distinguish itself from the evolution of the Baltimore-based duo’s work. While Legrand and Scally have replaced the echoing drums of their fourth album Bloom with some hymnlike elements, it is not enough to define Depression Cherry as something entirely new. Many of the tracks on the new disc are definitely a lot more languid than those of Bloom and definitely more coherent than those of Teen Dream in terms of instrumentals and melodies.
Upon listening to the album, one is introduced to the first track “Levitation,” whose slow-paced keyboards mimic the constant, steady notes of a church pipe organ that one would hear during a mass. The band’s lead single, “Sparks,” is a stark contrast from “Levitation.” By fusing a rippling guitar with heavy synth beats as choral vocals unceasingly lull in the background, “Sparks” is definitely a track that stands out on its own. Reminiscent of the kind of ballad that you and your main squeeze would dance to, the six-minute “PPP” asks, “Did you see it coming / It happened so fast / The timing was perfect / Water on glass.” These verses seem to capture exactly what Legrand meant when she referred to Depression Cherry and the development of Beach House as something that “we didn’t expect … was going to happen.”
Had it been Beach House’s debut album, maybe Depression Cherry would have been more compelling. Even so, Legrand and Scally’s latest disc still provides its listeners with the mellow background music they need whilst gazing out the window and losing themselves in thought.