- A culture magazine reaching terminal verbosity -

Beach House Make Small but Meaningful Changes on 'Thank Your Lucky Stars'

Music ReviewSean McHughComment

Plenty of landmark events have happened in the two-month span between August and October of 2015. Facebook announced their intent to roll out a “dislike” button, and social curmudgeons everywhere rejoice. Summer sports aficionados sat on the edge of their seats as the Minnesota Lynx capped off the 2015 WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) season with a championship. And most unfortunately, Donald Trump is still spewing asinine commentary along the campaign trail.

Pop culture potpourri aside, there may be no other event more uncharacteristically monumental than Beach House’s two album releases in as many months’ time. The dream-state, shoe-gazing nature of the Baltimore duo works wonderfully for the multiple year breaks in the band’s discography, with more than three years passing between Beach House’s Bloom beauty in 2012 and this past August’s Depression Cherry LP. So when Beach House announced the release of their second 2015 record, Thank Your Lucky Stars, for October 16, 2015, the indie world let out an exuberantly passive huzzah.

After the predictable (though enjoyable) sameness that was Depression Cherry, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s assurance that TYLS was a departure from the typical Beach House approach seemed to enliven many that this may in fact be the band’s best work yet. That “departure” may have been a bit of a misnomer in regard to most people’s assumption that “departure” in fact equals “different,” when in fact, that was not the case. The press release explains:

Thank Your Lucky Stars was written after Depression Cherry from July 2014 - November 2014 and recorded during the same session as Depression Cherry. The songs came together very quickly and were driven by the lyrics and the narrative. In this way, the record feels very new for us, and a great departure from our last few records. Thematically, this record often feels political. It’s hard to put it into words, but something about the record made us want to release it without the normal ‘campaign.’ We wanted it to simply enter the world and exist.

Despite the ample explanations that accompany the record’s release, TYLS is still an enigma. The band’s insistence that it isn’t a Depression Cherry companion becomes difficult to grasp on tracks like “Majorette” and “She’s So Lovely,” with both tracks moving in broad strokes that resemble both Depression Cherry and Teen Dream. The “classic” Beach House metronomic sound echoes in the background of virtually every song.

That being said, there are songs on TYLS that act as the enviable marriage of the albums ultra-lo-fi beginnings and more recent endeavors, such as “Elegy to the Void.” Perhaps one of the best integration of all five preceding albums, you hear the metronome, drums are crisper, individual instruments are audible, and Legrand’s lyrics are unexpectedly discernible at certain points. Other songs avoid becoming heavy handed shoe-gaze with tired pop banality, such as “Common Girl” which seems to focus on one central, wretched character: “She makes movies where she cries on cue / She still lives downtown…” and “Takes the pills and hides the notices / Cartoon rings of ill will.” TYLS is miles away from tropisms like “I’ll take care of you…”

All in all, Thank Your Lucky Stars acts as an extension of Depression Cherry in a lot of ways, as well as pivot point for Beach House’s career as a whole – many may want the band to actively change in a progressive way but the band chooses to continually broaden their sound in the most familiar and microscopic ways possible instead. It's what works for Legrand and Scally, and its afforded Beach House the ability to carve out a dream-pop legacy (and avoid becoming a caricature) on their own terms.