Beach House's new album 'Depression Cherry' stuck in a dream from which it can't wake

Former genre innovators and dream-pop aficionados Beach House has just released its fifth album “Depression Cherry,” and it’s a doozy — but for all the wrong reasons.

Singer Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally, a Baltimore duo clearly strapped for ideas, have given us the musical equivalent of climbing a steep mountain just to slip and fall at the summit.

While admittedly adhering to their already established melancholic sound, these two really need a heavy dose of pick-me-ups in their lives, or we may all fall asleep at the wheel while listening to another drowsy Beach House record.

Tracks like “PPP” and “Levitation” spend six minutes layering on the typical bogus drum machines, arpeggiated keys and hanging guitar licks in an attempt create lavish soundscapes and melodies. But instead of reaching for new heights and climaxing with some uncanny power, these songs instead fizzle into lethargy.

Even the fleeting moments of innovation evaporate far too soon. “10:37” opens with brooding drums and a menacing bass lead that opens Beach House’s repertoire into a new atmosphere. The simply gorgeous cascades of Legrand’s vocals oozes into the mix and “Depression Cherry” begins its first real winner. Unfortunately, the song abruptly passes away leaving only the well-dressed husk of disappointment for us to ponder over why good things pass too soon.

Beach House takes the safe route on nearly every other track by patrolling right through its back catalog, nitpicking ideas along the way. Legrand and Scally are stuck in a "Groundhog Day" styled loop and for a band with ten years of experience, the lack of sonic maturity is a legitimate concern.

“Wildflower” is a shameless attempt at giving the next big coming-of-age indie film a soundtrack to its “heartfelt” slow motion montage. Think "Tears For Fears" in "Donnie Darko’s" legendary scene only draped in schlocky teenage angst and boredom.

“Sparks” tries really hard to echo shoegaze, but it is ultimately ruined by Legrand’s grinding organs that sound like malfunctioning hardware and dial up tones. Scally does an excellent My Bloody Valentine impression though — points for that.

Thankfully this debacle of an album manages to end on high note. “Days of Candy” begins as a choral masterpiece that dazzles its way into outshining the previous 40 minutes of “Depression Cherry.” The alluring melodies trickle from Legrand’s mouth, causing an angelic sensory overload. Despite the former tracks’ mediocrity, this one feels like a precursor to what Beach House could accomplish the next time around.

Ironically, “Days of Candy” finishes the record by shoving the rest of it into a body bag and tossing it into a river. Maybe Beach House should focus on making music for Martin Scorsese’s next flick instead.

“Depression Cherry” tastes like stale bread. It's technically edible but better off left in the trash. For all of the album’s fateful grandeur and beauty, Beach House simply must be called on its inability to tread new ground.

Legrand’s compelling voice just isn’t enough to support another album of sameness. The three year gap between 2012’s “Bloom” and now was ample time to make significant change actually worth writing about, but a record this full of music festival bait is enough to make any budding cynic gag and spew.

And that’s really an unfortunate realization because Beach House has shown its significant potential in spades before. Maybe Legrand and Scally’s next outing needs five years in the incubator instead of three. Here’s to hoping 2020 bids well for dream-pop’s most depressingly decaffeinated duo. 


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