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Depression Cherry

The Top 30 Records of 2015

Music ListTransverso MediaComment
2015 year end photo.png

3. Beach House - Thank Your Lucky Stars

Thank Your Lucky Stars acts as both an extension of and 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. Perhaps one of the best integration of all five preceding albums, you hear the metronome, drums are crisper, individual instruments are audible, and Victoria Legrand’s lyrics are unexpectedly discernible at certain points. It's what works for them, and its afforded Beach House the ability to carve out a dream-pop legacy (and avoid becoming a caricature) on their own terms.


2. Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone?

Are You Alone? takes off where the Montreal duo’s preceding Impersonator left off; a paradox of bare-bones, minimalist soundscapes ebbing with lush depth that are somehow simultaneously tranquilizing and uplifting. Welsh’s immaculately vulnerable monologues and unflinching vocals are gently bold, and they drive their synth lullabies forward with severe care. It's Welsh at his most overbearing, and yet his tight grip is irresistible. Calculatedly organic, passionately controlled, it’s a journal reading in a dream.



1. Tame Impala - Currents

Currents is the most adventurous, interesting, and well-produced collection of songs Kevin Parker has created thus far, sitting atop Tame Impala's discography as the most mature and painstakingly crafted iteration in their twisted psych-pop world. From the lush synth tracks that bubble through the mix to his effortless, washed out vocals, every sound is rendered with the utmost care. Currents proves Parker is unable to stick with a certain sound, forever looking for new ways to evolve his ideas and push his project beyond what was expected when Innerspeaker first hit the shelves.


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.

Beach House's 'Depression Cherry' is Velvet Textured Cloud

Music ReviewWeston PaganoComment

“There’s a place I want to take you,” beckons Victoria Legrand over gently marching percussion in the appropriately titled opening track, “Levitation.” If you’re a Beach House fan, it’s a place you’ve been many times before, floating just above the atmosphere. 

While the French-American vocalist and guitarist Alex Scally’s fifth album Depression Cherry, like the rest of their dream pop discography, has a direction in mind, it’s at the mercy of its listener, with Legrand cooing, “I’ll go anywhere you want me to” shortly after.

Beach House, like most of their genre, don’t demand. Like dreams themselves, their soundscapes are what you make them. Manipulated within your own head, whether consciously or not, they can fade, ignored into background obscurity, or completely envelop you as you lie entranced on a thick, soft carpet of the ethereal.

Following “Levitation,” Depression Cherry comes back down to Earth with the second song, “Sparks.” An outlier in style, it’s a sort of waking from this dream, jolting the status quo with a fuzzier, harsher edge. This leading single seemed like a sign of something new, but ultimately comes off as a cherry-red herring as the record then relapses back into the sad, comfortable formula Beach House have perfected since their formation in 2004.

While this may be disappointing to those who lament the “same album over and over” approach and were hoping for some diversification, it’s hard to fault a group who has found their niche and carved it so deeply. Descriptors like “dreamy,” wistful,” and “lazy” have become, well, lazy over the years, but lazy is exactly how it all still feels, like a record player stuck on a lower speed. Though that is not meant negatively; this lull deceives those who are quick to write off their sound as boring or indistinct.

That being said, Depression Cherry doesn’t quite scale the sheer heights of the duo’s preceding two records, Bloom or Teen Dream, but largely by fault of Beach House setting the bar so high themselves. While those perfect moments mixed their ephemera with just the right amount of dynamism, Depression Cherry lacks some of that extra punch overall. The subsequent “Space Song," for all it’s echoing of “fall back into place,” does offer it, however, and it soars through the stars with sparkling synth beats in exactly the way an intergalactic swim might sound if the waves could exist in a vacuum at all.

And it’s exactly a vacuum in which Beach House want to exist. In an official statement they explain that the new record is what happened when they "let [them]selves evolve while fully ignoring the commercial context in which [they] exist,” shut away from it all. Even the relatively controlled environments of their own shows apparently dislocated them from their comfort zone, claiming “[T]he growing success... larger stages and bigger rooms naturally drove us towards a louder, more aggressive place; a place farther from our natural tendencies.”

So what was already so simple has become more so. While the red velvet vinyl sleeve reminiscent of Bee Gees’ Odessa adds further texture, even their trend of solid, monochromatic cover art is simplified further, with the minimalist details of Teen Dream’s faint zebra stripes and Bloom’s dots vanquished in favor of pure, unadulterated stasis. At first (and second) listen it’s easy to glaze over the music in a similar way, though give it a chance and out of the homogeny come swirls of beauty. In a particular Beach House-y touch, the duo even handpicked select lyrics to display on their official Sub Pop site, aware of how hard it can be for listeners to distinguish them on their own.

On that same page they describe the record as "a color, a place, a feeling, an energy,” and it's represented literally on the sleeve. Like the seat cushion in that old chair at your grandmother’s, you can brush your fingers along Depression Cherry’s sonic textures one way to make it change shade as the fibers lean, then smooth it back out the other way again. You can spin your fingertip in a spiral, or make stripes, but it’s all still a surface level alteration in a cloud.

"The first thing that I do before I get into your house / I'm gonna tear off all the petals from the rose that's in your mouth,” “Beyond Love" quietly stabs, showing Legrand at her most aggressive. Breathing restless life into the ambient haze she wrestles, "I really wanna know / I really do breathe / We really do breathe / We really wanna know.” 

These lyrical tones juxtaposed amidst the careful caress of the organ and slide guitar could leave a casual listener gliding by, blissfully unaware of the deeper, more forceful current rushing below the surface of gilded waters lapping calmly at his boat, yet that makes their realization all the more powerful. Legrand claws at you from the inside whether you're aware of it or not.

Later on, the spoken word alternating with a fleeting, slowed-down mirroring of John and Yoko’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” melody before captivatingly pleading guitar is layered with an angelic chorus makes the curiously named “PPP" a standout moment of not only the LP but their career. In “Bluebird” we find what is likely the only time Legrand will lie to you, as she soothingly misleads, “I would not ever try to capture you,” before “Days of Candy” ends Depression Cherry as fittingly as it began with the sendoff, “I know it comes too soon / The universe is riding off with you."

Whether it takes you where Legrand first longed to end up or not is up to you.

Depression Cherry is out now via Sub Pop. You can enter to win a red velvet poster for free here. You can buy the record here.

Win a Delicious Actual Red Velvet Beach House 'Depression Cherry' Poster

Music NewsWeston PaganoComment

Luscious Baltimore duo Beach House's newest album Depression Cherry is out today via Sub Pop, and we at Transverso are giving away one free, limited edition poster.


It, like the vinyl record, will be made of actual red velvet. Like the kind that you can touch. Finally there is a physical item as smooth as the sounds themselves.

Listen to the album and enter to win below, and read our Depression Cherry review here!

Close-up of the red velvet texture

Close-up of the red velvet texture

UPDATE: Congratulations to Raymond Thimmes, the winner of the poster and (surprise) a CD too!