"When the train comes, I will hold you." This was the first lyric off the new Beach House album, Depression Cherry, that really sunk its claws into me. I'm a sucker for a beautiful love song, and the song "Levitation" from which that lyric comes is exactly that. More than that, though, Levitation invites the listeners into the new album, painting in broad strokes what is to come: something cinematic, something that flows organically from an intro of string-like synths. The song is timeless, displaced from reality; lead singer Victoria Legrand sings, "There's a place I want to take you/Where the unknown will surround you," and reiterates that, "There is no right time." The songs cinematic quality is so strong that it feels almost visual; at the end, the music fades out into blisteringly high-pitched synths, like the scene from a movie fading out into static, into whiteness.
This album is not a push; it's more of a probe. Unlike most artists with several successful albums under their belts, Beach House does not try to reinvent themselves. They are still the same trance-pop staples that they have been for years now. But they are digging even deeper into the sweet melancholy that they have already been caught in - and this digging is almost completely effortless, for with a few small musical decisions - removing some live drums, paring down the elements used just a bit - the band has opened up room for songs that are spacious, unrestrained, expandable. For instance, the album's final song "Days of Candy" is spread-out, even languorous. Like laying your hands on a field of grass and splaying your fingers as far as they can go.
"Sparks", the second track on the album, uses a strange, gritty organ-sound, which gives the song a sci-fi, mechanical, breaking-down feeling. Paired with some aggressive guitar riffs, the song seems to be on the edge of breaking down at some points, then leaps back from the edge into the soaring landscape of Legrand's windy voice and softer chords on the guitar.
Beach House continues using sound to create visualizations, as well as creating atmosphere and narrative with music. For instance, "Bluebird" is twitchy and wound-tight, its beat - think a woodpecker with great rhythm - almost frantic, evoking the need for escape. This beat only quiets when Legrand sings the chorus, creating what feels like a dialogue between her voice and the music.
"PPP" uses narrative more directly, the lyrics partially one side of dialogue and partially the inner musings of someone considering long love or marriage and questioning their love and its longevity. The lyrics stand on the almost-bluesy beat, supported by a gently swinging guitar. Unsureness rings throughout the song, but in sound the song is quite upbeat; again, the song is cinematic, this time in its breathless hopefulness.
It's difficult to say if there is a single underlying theme that Depression Cherry follows. In fact, Im pretty sure there isn't. This album appears to be less about looking for something new but to continue to explore Legrand and Scally's hearts, their creativity and their melancholia in a wistful, thoughtful manner. In Depression Cherry, the band travels even further inward, but in the music they build vast worlds for their listeners to step into.