Depression Cherry was the sort of album Beach House fans were used to. Long before the album’s release was an incredible single. As the album’s release date drew near, more incredible songs revealed themselves through NPR and the band’s website. Once the album arrived, it delivered a dreamy sum of all of its parts to create a record with little to complain about. Beach House has released every album of theirs in this relatively normal manner. It was only a matter of time before they got bored of it.
“There’s a light in my eyes”
It wasn’t even two months after Depression Cherry that Thank Your Lucky Stars was announced. Beach House called it “an album being released the way we want” on Twitter shortly after revealing that the album would be out in a mere eight days following. The clear challenge of Lucky Stars at this point was to create an identity for itself independent of Depression Cherry’s- so not to instead act as the latter’s heated up leftovers, much like what Radiohead’s Amnesiac arguably did for the famed Kid A. The record opens up however with the exceedingly unique “Majorette”, a track that blends elements of shoegaze with the youthful guitar leads of a Death Cab for Cutie track circa 2001. This track among a few others that get Lucky Stars going are the first indication of this record’s clear intent to create a brand new identity for itself.
Another of the record’s openers is “She’s So Lovely” a track that does well to preview the overall far darker sonic atmosphere of Thank Your Lucky Stars in contrast with Depression Cherry. The track is slow moving- almost too much so- and a bit sleepy, but still provides a nice transition to the somewhat faster paced “All Your Yeahs”. While definitely stripped down, this track among many others here succeeds in not sounding anywhere near as skeletal and bare as a track like “10:37” off of the band’s previous record. Beach House however hits the dream pop jackpot with the tracks “One Thing” and “The Traveler”. The former track opens with the noisiest guitars the band has ever put forth, but it all makes sense once they blend with bear hug that is Victoria Legrand’s vocals. The latter track takes a different and more layered approach with a mixture of dull and sharp synths similar to the incredible “Sparks”, also released this year. Even with the album’s darker and somewhat more minimal approach, Thank Your Lucky Stars manages to be a record without many notable sonic weak links, save for the track “Common Girl” which sounds every bit as skeletal as the aforementioned “10:37”.
The issue instead with Lucky Stars is what isn’t here: anything more than a few key songs to make this record a truly special experience. Beach House is certainly more than able to deliver incredible vocals and its usual dreamy production- the basics, if you will. But for every terrific vocal performance and hypnotizing instrumental on an album like Teen Dream, there was a colorful and poetic theme or idea accompanying it. There is absolutely no need to trade a large thematic scope for a large sonic scope, as Beach House has already proven in the past that you can have both. While “Majorette” and the album’s closer “Somewhere Tonight” bring the band a little closer to taking the leap into something truly special, Thank Your Lucky Stars ultimately lacks the courage needed to go through with the jump.
What nonetheless results is an album with a terrific footprint- like one nobody’s ever seen before. There have certainly been bigger and more unique footprints in the same sand, but this one is undeniably solid in its own right. Thank Your Lucky Stars if anything is a nice reminder that Beach House is still the project to beat when it comes to new incorporation of sound and noise in alternative rock. At the very least, they’re finally making music the way they want to- and that’s a good thing.
Fingers crossed for next month?