Release Date: Oct 16, 2015
Record label: Sub Pop
Beach House released their fifth album Depression Cherry to widespread critical acclaim and a second straight top ten debut on the Billboard album chart only seven weeks ago. With fans still absorbing the album’s swirling beauty, the duo made the surprise announcement via social media that an entirely new studio album—the aptly titled Thank Your Lucky Stars—would be available in mid-October. It’s yet another thread pulled in the slow unravelling of the music industry’s outdated model of months of lavish and expensive buildup.
Given that Beach House released their beautiful fifth album Depression Cherry in August, it’s a pleasant surprise that their sixth, Thank Your Lucky Stars has arrived like a bolt out the blue two months later. What’s an even better surprise is that it’s a very different sounding record to its predecessor and an equally rewarding one. The shift in mood from Depression Cherry is immediately evident in the artwork; its black and white photo imagery reflects the records observational feel.
Over the last decade, Beach House have been remarkably consistent: at regular intervals, they put an immaculate new record into the world, and each tends to satisfy the same need. Until now, their pace of releases has indicated a grasp of the spot their music held in listeners’ hearts; the world that Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand build on their records is a place we want to revisit, but the spaces in between records has felt essential to that magic. They are in their own way a theatrical band, and what’s more theatrical than a well-placed pause? Which all makes the appearance of Thank Your Lucky Stars, the band’s second full-length in as many months, surprising.
It's a small, but significant, detail that live drums are the first thing listeners hear on Thank Your Lucky Stars. Though "Majorette" soon unfolds into the swirling, twinkling, snow-globe beauty for which Beach House are well-known -- some might say too well-known -- the moment captures the tiny yet notable ways Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally tinker with their sound on their second release of 2015. Arriving just two months after Depression Cherry, Thank Your Lucky Stars was recorded at the same time as that album; while it's tempting to say the duo should've combined the best songs from each into one work -- or released them as a double album -- their vibes are distinct.
When we last left Beach House, less than two months ago ago, principal members Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally were reaffirming their status as masters of frayed ends and hazy outlines. They blasted Depression Cherry into interstellar overdrive and beautiful rewind, crafting a collection of motion-blurred ballads with few handholds to latch onto in the disorienting squalls of organ. It was a release that was satisfied in its own confusion, the natural soundtrack to a whiskey-soaked midnight, lying on the floor and coming undone while you contemplate the weight of all the moments that got you there.
Occasionally, bands or artists will speak about their recording sessions and note the wealth of material they have recorded, hinting that they may release whole albums of unreleased songs from the same sessions. And when these come to fruition, the expectation is never that the musicians are going to exceed the recording sessions’ primary output in quality. In a case like Modest Mouse earlier this year, fans may even be grateful that they aren’t subjected to an extension to an uninspired recording session.
When Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House announced the existence of a new album less than two months after the release of this year's excellent Depression Cherry, it was a surprise to many of their fans. The band declared that the album was "not a companion to Depression Cherry or a surprise or B-sides," claiming that they were merely experimenting with release schedules. Yet it is somewhat of a surprise that Thank Your Lucky Stars even exists, considering the consistency with which Beach House has directed its business thus far in its career.
Beach House craft songs like cloudy sapphires: glittering on their surfaces, with a blue, murky power underneath. Over six albums, the Baltimore duo have distilled their sound into an exact dream-pop formula, leaving room for their devoted fans to project their own hopes onto their songs. Their fifth LP, this August's Depression Cherry, demanded several listens before its somber tones became clear.
Barely two months on from the release of Depression Cherry, Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House return with another long player, their sixth, written and recorded during the same sessions. It’s something of a surprise release, both in its sudden arrival and in content, marking a departure from the reverb-heavy oblique wash of Depression Cherry. Ethereal opener Majorette, The Traveller and the waltz-like Somewhere Tonight are all sublime examples of the new, stripped back Beach House sound at work.
The speed with which Beach House’s sixth record follows their fifth, August’s Depression Cherry, might suggest a sweeping-up of offcuts from the studio floor. But though recorded during the same sessions as its predecessor, it was written as a distinct collection, and hangs together as cohesively as the band’s impressionistic style will allow. There are familiar shortcomings and merits.
Beach House have cordoned off a little part of the world for themselves and thrown away the keys. Across six albums, the Baltimore duo have bit-by-bit refined the sweeping, floaty sound that’s unashamedly theirs to keep. Nobody else comes close to their simple combination of spiralling guitar lines, cuddly organs and overwhelming warmth. That’s a given.
Of all the artists speculated to have surprise albums coming out this year (Drake, Kanye West), few would have expected Baltimore's Beach House to be one of them. Less than two months ago, they dropped their excellent fifth album, Depression Cherry, via the usual three-month promotional cycle. Announced via Twitter just last week, Thank Your Lucky Stars, is now officially the band's sixth studio album.Written after Depression Cherry yet recorded during the same sessions, the band are calling it a "great departure" from their last few records.
Surprise record releases have become an entrenched fixture of the music world, but this one was particularly unexpected. It’s just not too often that an artist decides to debut a new album a little less than two months after dropping its last one. And yet here we are with a new record from the Baltimore-based pop duo Beach House to bask in just a short bit after the group debuted its critically lauded fifth record, Depression Cherry.
Since Beach House released their self-titled debut in 2006, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have dropped new albums on two-year cycles as regular a man on bran. While their sound has evolved over time—moving from the harder, less structured groan of Devotion to the spaced-out, stadium filling sprawl of Bloom—the space between releases has made the gradual change in tone and approach part of a fluid, natural, and even inevitable progression. With the release of Depression Cherry just last month, Beach House added another solid album to their oeuvre.
Beach House are in an enviable position: not only did their Depression Cherry album come out earlier this year to much fanfare, helping them sell out shows all over the world, including two scheduled in Toronto for next March, its recording sessions yielded enough material for the Baltimore dream-pop duo to assemble a second album's worth of material. So two months after Depression Cherry's release, we get Thank Your Lucky Stars, a quiet, sleepy, appropriate soundtrack to the season's advancing darkness. It's got a muted palette of warm/cold electronic colours and Victoria Legrand's trademark hushed, intimate vocals (most spectacular on The Traveller).