Published Aug 26, 2015The usual criticism with Baltimore duo Beach House is that their sleepy dream pop doesn't exactly grab you by the throat, that album after album, their goal is to simply put you to sleep. It's is a tough thing to argue: Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand have always kept the same minimal set-up, making music that's heavy on pensive lyrics and placid, Charmin-soft production. Beach House's critics will probably struggle to hear much of a difference on the band's fifth album, Depression Cherry, but their fans should feel right at home.
Scally and Legrand are meticulous about their music, often focusing on how they made the music during interviews instead of sharing what it's all about. And that's for a good reason: they want you to tune in and get lost in the music so you can interpret the songs on your own. That's not hard to do with Depression Cherry.
More than any of their previous four albums, the new album — recorded with regular producer Chris Coady in a remote Louisiana studio — finds the duo presenting a type of hypnotic vagueness that allows you to gently reflect on Legrand's deeper lyrical themes of love, grief and mortality. Songs like "Wildflower" and "Levitation" lull you into a sense of consolation, like a reliable childhood blankie. But they're also exploring deeper sonic boundaries, with honeyed noise and atonal synth melodies guiding "Sparks," and a 24-part choir achieving Slowdive levels of bliss on "Days of Candy."
Anyone who doesn't fall for Depression Cherry's hypnotic splendour probably just isn't a Beach House fan, or didn't live with the album long enough. But those who do will recognize this album as the sweeping, grand gesture they've been working up to giving us for the last nine years. (Sub Pop)