Final Rating: 9.0/10
Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally are a part of the highly consistent dream pop outfit Beach House, and if their names haven’t been thrust into the upper echelons of music praise for you yet, the name Beach House has certainly. Maybe it was during the Teen Dream era. Maybe you heard Take Care being used to promote Blue is the Warmest Colour. Maybe you saw Jay-Z and Beyoncé at one of their shows on youtube. You could have also heard their music sampled by Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd or others. Who could forget the equally dominant Bloom era?
The duo released their album Depression Cherry just two months ago. It’s foggy, dreamy and it soars with smog around it while it is catapulted into space. It was released three years after Bloom, which broke their usual two-years-between-albums pattern. Why did it take longer to come out with Depression Cherry? It didn’t. With the words “thank your lucky stars” carved into the middle of one of the sides of the Depression Cherry record, this was a plan of Beach House’s all along. Two months after, we are here now with the album of the same name: One we didn’t even know existed until last week. A band as huge as Beach House was to release two albums months apart? This was a huge deal.
We start with the drum kick in Majorette, and we may expect a more upbeat album right away. Don’t be deceived: The wind chimes being strum like the start of The Cure’s Pictures of You is a better cue to follow here. Thank Your Lucky Stars is dark, chilling and appropriately spooky for this Halloween season. We enter some new territory here, like the Warpaint-like All Your Yeahs that slowly burns into existence. This idea features some of the finer moments on the album: The dying guitar tones on One Thing being trampled by funeral organs, the same chilling organs feeling like they are being ripped out of a fallen Legrand in The Traveller and the quivering vocal work on Somewhere Tonight. The latter song almost sounds like it would come from a suffering songstress in some unreleased David Lynch film that sings in front of red curtains with a smile but sunken eyes.
At times, this is the Beach House we know very well, and their songs do have the same careful signature on them. Many have pointed out the similarities between Common Girl’s hopping melody and Bloom’s On the Sea, and while there is an undeniable similarity, to feel that the two songs are ultimately one in the same is foolish. On the Sea expands into a lush painting of colours, but Common Girl is a claustrophobic song that clings onto this melody for dear life without trying for more. Thank Your Lucky Stars is probably the most closed off and introverted the band has ever been, and it brings new depths to the band that haven’t been touched on this level since Devotion (just don’t let us catch you again).
Scally’s guitar playing is as tested as Legrand’s vocals. It still feels within its own element, but it goes a bit further on this album. The ending of One Thing has an almost arena-like guitar solo that The Edge would have something to say about. Elegy to the Void has a simplistic solo that screams like some of the minimalist solos on My Bloody Valentine’s return MBV. You can pin point a few more notable examples, but Scally has worked more to make his guitar tones and lines punchy since the music around it has settled down.
Depression Cherry came out, and we got another solid Beach House release. Before we even accepted that we’ve gotten our Beach House fix for some time, Thank Your Lucky Stars comes out and things get even more depressing. The whole album feels like the album cover, where a young girl has discovered mortality for the first time; You can feel the walls of this tiny room cave in with the pulls of gravitational sorrow. The Traveler (one of the top songs of the year, as far as I’m concerned), acknowledges that “it’s not enough”, despite the best efforts. Where is the optimism of 10 Mile Stereo or Take Care, where you are sprinting with a loved one until you come down and rest with them while you gaze at one another? Where are the full circle come arounds of Wishes? Not here. Here, we have spiritual backing vocals woo us, knowing that we are trapped in a dark pit.
It’s cheating to say that Thank Your Lucky Stars is a beautiful album. Everything Beach House touches simply is. This release is possibly their most deeply emotional, though. Teen Dream, Bloom and even Depression Cherry are experiences where your hand is held while you watch the sun set, the stars above or the snow settle. Thank Your Lucky Stars holds your hand in your crammed room with nothing to look at but your decorations. It’s less of a spectacle as much as it is a reminder that you, yourself, are a spectacle. It may not be their biggest wonder, but it is their strongest catharsis (something they worked hard on with their self titled and Devotion albums). Thank Your Lucky Stars came out of nowhere, and it’s the sob-soaked hug we all needed and didn’t know we necessarily needed right now. Thank you, Beach House: You are our lucky stars.