#32. Beach House: Depression Cherry

#32. Beach House: Depression Cherry

Depression Cherry is the first—and stronger—of two back-to-back albums Beach House released in 2015. Their fifth album overall and their first since 2012’s Bloom, this is some of Beach House’s finest work, and stays true to the band’s signature lush minimalism. Depression Cherry does stray slightly from the traditional Beach House style, but it’s a subtle shift, not a grand departure. The album is less of an excursion into new sonic territories and more of a refinement of their preexisting sound.

Beach House are known for making dream pop with an airy feeling of flight to it. Previously, they have taken to the skies with soaring albums that carry the listener through the clouds on gentle gusts of wind. Depression Cherry makes an overt departure from this style with its opening track, “Levitation.” As the song’s title suggests, Beach House retain their weightlessness, but it’s more controlled here. The music still isn’t grounded, but instead of being swept up to the sky there’s a heightened stillness to it.

The songs are still harmonically rich, but the instrumental arrangements are even more spacious and minimalist this time around. Melody is generally provided only from breathy vocals and tranquil guitar ostinatos, which float above a bed of synth harmonies. On “Space Song,” a sliding guitar phrase consisting of only five notes is painted above placid chords; the song’s harmonic rhythm is slow and stately. On “Sparks,” a guitar ostinato outlines a major arpeggio over nearly unintelligible vocals that reverberate through the air. A similar guitar line is drawn overtop the music on “Beyond Love” like a single Jackson Pollock brush stroke across an impressionist painting.

Every single song on Depression Cherry is in a major key, and listening to the album straight through can be a meditative experience. Its calm, trancelike nature is ideal for music fans who prefer to listen to albums straight rather than cherry pick their favorite songs for separate listening. Depression Cherry doesn’t venture far enough away from the world of Beach House to carve out a new section of the fan base, but it’s fresh enough for preexisting fans to notice a change in the wind and appreciate its uniqueness.

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