Review: Beach House — Depression Cherry

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4 OUT OF 5 NUTS!

depressioncherryEvery good Rock radio programmer knows that a great set of music encompasses the full dynamic range that only Rock music can deliver. Rock is the only “genre” that delivers both the loudest louds and quietest quiets. It’s a Yin-Yang thing. The loud sounds lose impact without quiet sounds to rub up against, and vice versa.

This is all by way of saying that the mellow chill has a full and rightful place in Rock, as long as it maintains certain standards of integrity and authenticity. Depression Cherry by Beach House meets those standards and more. This record is so mellow and so groovy that listeners may be in danger of spontaneous ripening.

Previous albums from this Baltimore duo Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand (daughter of legendary French film composer Michel Legrand) at least contained some tracks with uptempo beats that allowed them to occasionally slip into electronic dance music territory. But Depression Cherry goes for full-on atmospherics, giving the album as a whole a very coherent feel.

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Its Rock credentials comes through Scally’s beautiful guitar work. The track “Sparks” is driven by a deliciously distorted pair of guitars that make it clear this is not Enya or any other easy-listening record, as Legrand sings of typically ethereal matters:

Hallucination comes
Think of everyone
That never shared before
From my mouth to yours
And then it’s dark again
Just like a spark
And then it vanishes
No one around
And then it comes again
Just like a spark

The album’s title is a bit misleading, because where some atmospheric music veers toward the unhappy and the depressing, Depression Cherry’s lyrics and major tones reveal a mostly uplifting and comfortable vibe. “Days of Candy” features Legrand’s breathy vocals over top a Beach Boys-type harmonic bed, making a melancholy of the bittersweet variety and not of the wrist-slitting type.

For me, the album’s highlight is the track “PPP”, which offers a less electronic and more organic instrumentation of an absolutely jaw-dropping Procol Harum-esque circular chord progression that gets repeated through the outro. It is an absolutely stunning and gorgeous track.

There’s a kind of timelessness to Depression Cherry. Its obvious progenitors are the synthesized 1980s atmospherics of bands like Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, but the inspiration really goes even further back to the 1960s, through the ethereal output of bands like Pink Floyd or Soft Machine. Even back then they understood the Yin and the Yang of Rock music.

Release Date: August 28, 2015

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