“DD Review: Beach House – Depression Cherry.”

Score: 8/10

“A beach house is a house on or near a beach, sometimes used as a vacation or second home for people who commute to the house on weekends or during vacation periods.” – wikipedia.org


Vaudeville ’70’s Linda Rondstadt influence meets glam rock meets Clipse/Dope Head crack rap all on the first track “Levitation.” This is pop for the tarnished teens (the decade, the teens, not the age group), the beautiful Victoria Legrand still hiding behind corridors of persona, emerging and illuminating just enough to show us a thing or two more about the major scale.
Trippy, throwaway Stone Roses are hearkened on the lead of “Sparks,” and the waning moments of “Levitation,” as well as drone as a style as a whole, and Fall Be Kind era Aminal Collective. The same sort of wayward, half-conscious and woozy feel is summoned, less focused than fanatical, but a world that is a zerox of the universe itself. The effort is there, but the effort is, simply, to be Beach House, nothing but just more involved, more cottoned on, to the world, than on predecessors like Beach House and Devotion.
Deerhunter’s guitar sound rings loud (literally and figuratively) on “Sparks.” I’m tempted to point out an influence of Lower Dens (Nootropics era), a fellow Baltimore act, here, but if there is, it’s more in spirit than anatomy — just pure force of will to blend all the sounds together in a narcotic haze, as disparate as sun and ice, but to have them meld together in the spirit of Yo La Tengo circa “From a Motel 6.” But again, glam rock rules the roost.
You might ask, what’s the point of buying a Beach House album for $8.99 on iTunes in the year 2015 (which I just did)? Well, juxtaposing it with “pop” music on the radio, this is “pop” music for people with taste… well, Legrand sounds broken. The vocal timbre is broken, to put it simply, and sure this is a production technique, but the best production techniques of our ages come alive, a la the modified voice on Battles’ “Atlas,” a la the guitar swaths on Deerhunter’s “Neither of Us, Uncertainly.”
What strikes me even early on on Depression Cherry is Beach House’s knack to pit the abstract with the dramatic, and stroll in and out of either one with entire autodidactic qualities, even better than say The White Stripes did on Icky Thump.
I’ve seen Victoria Legrand, in real life. Actually, at first I thought she was a black girl, like Tracy Chapman, or something. I think this has to do with her aura, or something.
My point is, we know she’s going to write great melodies. It’s like Grandma’s, with the peanut butter cookies in the vending machine, or something.
So the achievement of Depression Cherry is in timbre, with which Alex Scally thrives. A gritty drum sound confounds the mix of “Space Song,” which, apropos of its generic title, does strike me as Beach House more or less flexing their sugar-pop muscle.
“PPP” is gorgeous, and atones for the prior two underwhelming, possible throwaway tracks, and how on Bloom it really didn’t sound like they were doing anything new at all. This is far from being the case on this song, whose title reminds me of some DSL modem hookup type motif [1], and whose spoken-word intro stands tall. “PPP” is gorgeous. It teases the listener cruelly and musically, slipping in and out of genuineness to remind us of the universe’s overarching chaotic apathy. And even where the melody threatens to fall into overly conventional Derek & The Dominos territory, Legrand sees this and the whole thing is torn again asunder, rendered back into her sovereign artistic womb. This is something we got hints of on Teen Dream, in the very timbres of her voice, and now it’s realized musically, with modern chutzpah.
On “Bluebird,” even amidst the glorious percussive moments at the song’s genesis, the Lower Dens influence looms heavily, and it makes me want to just give a listen back to “Propagation.” There’s no mistake that there’s a dun, explorative competition going on for best band in Baltimore.
[1] And overall, the excessive cloaks of synths on this album seems to play up its reaction to increasingly technological times, whereas some more space, ominousness and that glam rock guitar might have made this album a classic.

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