‘Beach House’ decide to play it surprisingly safe on fifth album Depression Cherry, despite some promise there would be real change in the works.
After four albums of relatively slow progression, albeit with good results, fans may have been expecting a curveball from Beach House after single ‘Sparks’ proved to be a departure from their natural sound. Saying that, Depression Cherry is an album that is difficult to chart in terms of progression in the entire context of their discography; it attempts to make some new strides but seems to also revisit their older material.
Album opener ‘Levitation’ may not be ground-breaking for Beach House but it’s certainly a very well-written song and will be known as a memorable addition to their catalogue. The cinematic introduction to the album is an excellent choice but after multiple listens the song loses a bit of its charm. There is a certain sweetness that feels slightly false throughout the album but it’s difficult to place why it doesn’t feel as genuine this time round.
Lead single ‘Sparks’ is most definitely the high point of this album, and it may be the best song Beach House have ever made. It oozes effortlessly with a totally enchanting sonic attack on offer. The sound of the song is so full and to me this is the logical conclusion of their sound. Putting a song this fantastic on an album that turns out to be so lacklustre is extremely frustrating because you feel that if they had pushed further with this sound they could have created something incredibly memorable.
As soon as ‘Sparks’ finishes a bit of momentum is lost, we go instantly back into the classic Beach House sound. ‘Space Song’ isn’t even a poor effort but after ‘Sparks’ you hoped that they would continue to push into even more exciting territory. Instead you get what feels like a re-hash of one of the more forgettable cuts from ‘Teen Dream.’ As the album continues it becomes increasingly difficult to pick out any stand-out moments, the remaining tracks all seem to be so formulaic for the band and I can only focus on what could have been with this project.
‘Beyond Love’ is another pleasant Beach House track but again feels like it’s been done before. Once again the band takes baby-steps at transforming their sound, they add a slightly distorted guitar riff but apart from that there is nothing changed from previous efforts. The first half of the album is definitely more impressive than the latter as the quality of songs declines measurably from ‘10.37’ onwards.
Beach House’s music has never really been thrilling as such, but equally they have never sounded this boring. The song is completely directionless, indirect and uninspiring. For such a talented group I’d even stretch to say that this is lazy from them. The vocals on this track seem so tired and lethargic and the track feels far longer than it is. On ‘PPP’ Beach House skirt the very borderline of repeating themselves, so close to parodying their own work that it becomes unbelievable at points. Eventually the song attempts to reveal itself as some kind of anthem, but it’s almost impossible to take them seriously.
Following tracks ‘Wildflower’ and ‘Bluebird’ are two of the most forgettable songs the group have ever written. At this point you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a struggle for them to even churn out enough songs to fill an album (it is). I have a suspicion that Beach House only actually recorded three albums, and then input the songs from those albums into a highly intelligent computer and it recorded their next two projects for them.
After a pretty strong start, the second half of this album is like a bouncy castle slowly deflating, leaving a whole garden full of children upset, tired and wishing they were at home already. Album closer ‘Days of Candy’ is an extremely low point to end the album on, by the time it arrives the relative highs of the first four tracks are completely forgotten.
For anyone who is an avid fan of the group this might be the perfect Beach House album to come out now, it’s an album that adds minor extras without deviating too far from their famous sound and also seems to summarise all their previous works neatly. For me, I feel like I’ve listened to this album before, and it was better the first time round.