Beach House are a band that normally churn out an album every two or three years; every release is given the time to digest and they give their audience the chance to have an attachment grow. The duo are heralded as gods of Dream-Pop at this point and the blueprint of their music has only changed slightly over the years that they’ve been a band. They utilise drum machines, angelic vocals from Victoria Legrand and slow building yet spellbinding guitars.
It comes as a surprise that Beach House should release ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ a mere few months after ‘Depression Cherry’, an album that polarised many fans due to a distinct lack of stylistic changes/changes that some fans didn’t enjoy. There were only a small amounts of changes to their previous sound, namely in the vocal delivery from Legrand, yet the album was — once given time to digest — easily one of their most impactful and heartfelt releases of their career. An album that had such a profound sadness about it, yet it was filled with the optimism to get out of that sadness.
Like all of their previous albums, ‘Depression Cherry’ sounded like a grand event, especially in the final moments of the album where it sounded like it was recorded in a cathedral. ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ was recorded around the same time as ‘Depression Cherry’, yet it’s shocking how different it sounds to its predecessor. The album is by no means filled with outtakes and B-sides, it’s more like ‘Amnesiac’ to ‘Kid A’. ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ is self-described as ‘darker’ and more ‘political’ than previous efforts, emphasising that they wanted this album to be out to the public, yet didn’t want it to be overshadowed by ‘Depression Cherry’. Unfortunately, I have my doubts as to whether this should have been released when it was – the hype for new Beach House material is dying down yet people are still digesting ‘Depression Cherry’. Not only that but this album definitely would have captured the hearts of so many more if it had been released first. The grandeur of ‘Depression Cherry’ would have stood powerfully on its own if it had been released after this, yet because ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ is smaller in terms of scale sonically, it may be swept under the rug.
Despite the fact that it’s undoubtedly a micro release in the scale of Beach House’s discography both in terms of sound and size (only 9 tracks long), ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ may actually be sonically supreme when compared to ‘Depression Cherry’. The promise of experimentation on the song ‘Sparks’ on ‘DC’ left many disappointed when the rest of the album seemed to be a lot more typically Beach House, yet that promise is fulfilled on their new album. Grumbling, sliding guitar tones show up all over this album as well as a wider variety of synths and instrumentation in general. Many of the tracks on this album sound similar to their older albums in that track to track it experiments much more and builds with a wide variety of instrumentals. The instrumentation on ‘Common Girl’ sounds like it could have been taken straight from some sort hazy trip to a circus, and the drums that characterised albums like ‘Bloom’ show up every now and again in the distance in the mixing. Beach House are once again experimenting on how to make simple instrumentation feel as impactful as it can.
Beach House’s use of reverb has always been fantastic, with the band at this point knowing exactly how to create mass amounts of space within their compositions. This space allows Legrand‘s vocal melodies to actually go over with a whole lot more finesse on this album than they did on their last, with her vocals having a certain amount of clarity to them despite the fact that, like on their last album, they’re paper-thin instead of the bellowing on albums like ‘Teen Dream’ and ‘Bloom’. ‘The Traveller’ has an absolutely gorgeous vocal melody especially when Legrand reaches into the higher whispy parts of her voice, with organs and lush guitars being added into the song as it progresses. The only problem is that for the first time, this spacey atmosphere that they build throughout their songs — including on this one — ends so quickly, simply stopping in what feels like mid-song.
It’s a good job that this album wasn’t lumped together with ‘Depression Cherry’ as a giant slog of a double album, not only because sonically people would have lost interest towards the end (Beach House albums have always been short it’s always been a blessing), but because thematically and lyrically they’re very different to each other. As mentioned before Beach House have said this album is political, but because Beach House have never been a band to go in-depth lyrically – leaving much to the imagination with deliberately vague descriptions, the political aspect doesn’t quite shine through like the theme of depression did on their last album. ‘Depression Cherry’ was an album that took repeat listens to reveal its heartbreaking truths to you, whereas ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ is instantly gratifying, only to be not as engaging on an emotional level.
In many ways, ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ could be the answer to the nay-sayers of the hazy style of ‘Depression Cherry’, showing how the band can put together songs that sound completely engaging and consistently interesting sonically, even if they’re not quite up to that standard emotionally. Beach House are going to keep making Beach House albums and we’re going to keep swallowing them up, because this is a band that shows no signs of slowing down in cementing their place as one of Dream-Pop’s most inventive and consistent bands.
Best Tracks: Common Girl, The Traveller, Majorette