Beach House Strikes Back

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Published October 30, 2015
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The Montclarion
Beach House performing a live concert. Photo courtesy of James Grantham (wikipedia)
Beach House performing a live concert. Photo courtesy of James Grantham (wikipedia)

Beach House performing a live concert.
Photo courtesy of James Grantham (wikipedia)

Though it has only been two months since they released their fifth studio album, Depression Cherry, the Baltimore dream pop duo Beach House has just come out with its follow-up, Thank Your Lucky Stars, their sixth studio album and second disc of 2015. Considering the fact that the two albums were released within the same year, recorded simultaneously and are each composed of nine tracks, one cannot help but compare them both.

Notwithstanding vocalist Victoria Legrand’s insistence that you not compare Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, one will find that the varying composition and instrumentals of both albums highlight the duo’s ongoing struggle to maintain their signature hypnotic sound as they reinvent themselves at the same time.

In what is considered a “return to simplicity” by Legrand, Thank Your Lucky Stars is definitely a continuation of the stripped down, back-to-basics feel that Depression Cherry was meant to propel earlier this year, especially when compared to 2011’s more rambunctious Bloom. That is to say that Thank Your Lucky Stars does not feature the energetic drums of Bloom, nor does it feature the choral, church-like elements of Depression Cherry.

The slow-paced, dreamlike elements prevalent in tracks like “Common Girl” and “The Traveller” bring to mind the duo’s earlier aesthetic. The slow and lethargic ambience of “One Thing” makes it the kind of song that one would listen to on a long drive home as the heavy clouds swallow more of the sky. Ironically, however, “One Thing” was performed on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert earlier this month.

Even though all of the songs on Thank Your Lucky Stars sound rather gloomy, they certainly differ from the kind of gloominess that was apparent in Depression Cherry. The exception is “She’s So Lovely,” which sounds as though it could be featured on Depression Cherry, given its long-winding organs and melancholic vocals.

When it comes to reviewing new releases from artists, I have a habit of listening to any new material seven times before I can fully determine whether I like or dislike it. After having listened to Thank Your Lucky Stars for the first time, I must admit that I did not like the album because it was too mellow and failed to deliver any memorable tracks. Six repeats later, I found myself appreciating Thank Your Lucky Stars, though not as much as its predecessor, mainly because it sounds like a progression of the same sleep-inducing sound.

Even so, releasing two discs within the same year is never an easy task, yet Beach House managed to succeed without compromising the quality of their music. Rather than compiling all of the tracks of Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars into a single disc, Beach House kept the consistency of their new tracks by appropriating it over two discs in order to prove to fans and critics that they are capable of both staying within their origins and experimenting with a mélange of instrumentals and melodies.

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