Beach House Releases a Masterpiece of the Dream Pop Genre

16 Sep

Dream pop. Soundscapes that are sculpted with an airy artistry. Colors, lighting and shapes painted with subtle variations in tone and texture. This is the very definition of Baltimore duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, who call themselves Beach House.

Vocalist and keyboardist, Legrand, graduated from Vassar College in 2003. She met guitarist Scally in Baltimore a year or so later and they began writing and producing songs together.

By the Fall of 2006, the duo was ready to release its self-titled debut album. Since then, Beach House has evolved and matured, producing a succession of works including Devotion (2008), Teen Dream (2010), Bloom (2012), and now its latest, Depression Cherry, truly a masterpiece of the dream pop genre.

The new album is luxurious, almost epic in its revealing dreamscapes. The music explores emotions we all experience—joy, sadness, longing, pensiveness, love, serenity.

Legrand’s vocals and magnificent, layered keyboards surround you with walls of sound until you become immersed in the experiences Beach House shares.

The opener, “Levitation,” begins with a pulsing organ embracing your senses. Legrand’s vocals are a metaphor for the intent of the album. She sings, “You should see/There’s a place I want to take you/When the train comes, I will hold you.” The keyboards continue in what seems to be an endless round, swirling higher and higher. A spectacular start!

Next up is “Sparks,” the first single released off Depression Cherry. Distant, indistinct voices and Legrand’s otherworldly keyboards provide an atmosphere for Scally’s angular guitar, which in turn, serves as a counterpoint to the gentle, wavelike melody.

My favorite track on the album is “Space Song.” Almost a throwback to the classic love songs of the 1960s, it features weeping synths (I think) and calliope-like tones over Legrand’s steady organ chords and her rich vocals as she sings, “Tender is the night for a broken heart/Who will dry your eyes when it falls apart/What makes this fragile world go ‘round/Were you ever lost?/Was she ever found?”

Capping off the nine-song set is the reverential “Days of Candy.” The opening harmonies recall the best church choirs raising their voices as if in a soaring cathedral. I would love to know how many tracks it took Legrand and Scally to create that. Then, Legrand takes the lead with vocals as fragile as a piece of crystal. Again, this epic creation is presented as more of an immersing experience than a tune that will run through your head on your morning jog. The best way to enjoy it is to start the album at the beginning, turn the volume up, kick back, and let yourself become one with the music.

Whether dream pop has been your thing in the past or not, Depression Cherry is an album you must hear.

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