Album Review – Thank Your Lucky Stars / Beach House

It would be nigh-impossible to disassociate Thank Your Lucky Stars with Depression Cherry, a record that came out less than two months ago and is (in my opinion) one of the best albums of the year so far. Thank Your Lucky Stars comes hot on the heels of Depression Cherry and whilst details are scarce on …Lucky Starsit feels like familiar Beach House, albeit with some unlikely twists to surprise the fans. It has an even hazier feel than their previous albums, possibly because the timing of the album is still so surprising that people are unsure whether to expect an experimental departure to balance out the perfection of Depression Cherry, or a more familiar approach. In fact, Thank Your Lucky Stars take polar opposite approaches in its sonic palette; absorbing the light-shoegaze of Depression Cherry with songs like ‘One Thing’ and the intimacy of their early albums – Beach House and Devotion. It amounts to a record unlike any other Beach House record but is still sumptuously delivered and produced.

The ‘light shoegaze’ elements of Depression Cherry that weren’t fully fulfilled actually come back with more force on …Lucky Stars. Songs such as ‘One Thing’ or ‘Elegy To The Void’ go to territories that their previous record merely hinted at. In fact ‘Elegy To The Void’ is one of the grandest, most beautiful songs Beach House have ever put to tape. It begins with Victoria Legrand’s organ and eventually the return of more organic-sounding drums patter across the track. The lyrics are poetic and innocent, with Legrand singing ‘Freckle-faced young virgin’ and ‘Run from hollow hills / Walk into the night’. Legrand is still obsessed with escapism and youth and it comes up time and time again throughout …Lucky Stars. The song goes on for 6:30, which is a huge portion of time for Beach House to devote to one song, but it feels necessary. It works similarly to ‘Levitate’ from Depression Cherry, where the endlessness works in its favour, before fading out. Another of the ‘shoegaze’ songs on the album is ‘One Thing’, a song that could be described as a ‘love song’, but is done in only the way Beach House write a love song. They envelope the song with fuzzy guitars and drums, causing it to stand out from the more dream-pop moments on the album, of which there are plenty. It’s an interesting direction for Beach House to take which results in an album highlight.

More traditional songs by Beach House standards are ‘Majorette’ or ‘Somewhere Tonight’, which sounds a bit like the band slowed down ‘Silver Soul’ from Teen Dream. They make the song almost sound like a 1950s pop song, although much sadder and slower. The lyrics also reference the 1950s ballroom party, with Legrand singing ‘Pink and blue were dancing’ and ‘Somewhere in the ballroom tonight’. There’s even an organ solo for good measure. You can almost imagine the famous scene from Carrie taking place and Beach House providing a perfect (if slightly contrasting) soundtrack. ‘Majorette’, however, kicks the album off with a bang. Alex Scally’s distorted guitar rumbles over a cleaner piano. The way Beach House use distorted or shoegaze guitar sounds never interferes with what Legrand is doing with her voice, organ or synths. It almost shouldn’t work, but it does. The theme of ‘majoretting’ (another reference to the early 20th century) is about completely losing control of everything, but Beach House make is sound so damn dreamy that utterly breaking down seems like a good thing to do.

Parties make frequent returns throughout …Lucky Stars. ‘Rough Song’ has Legrand singing ‘Found a hole in the party’ and ‘Another vodka cocktail party’. Don’t be fooled by the title, ‘Rough Song’ is anything but. The drums, synths and organ have a more traditional Beach House sound and the pacing is slower and takes its time to unfold. Eventually when the guitar comes in, it ripples across the track and Legrand raises her voice to the levels that she ventured out to on Depression Cherry. Legrand is much less adventurous with her voice on …Lucky Stars compared to Depression Cherry, which is unfortunate as it marked an change in style. She reverts back to Teen Dream and Bloom‘s vocal style, which was by no means bad, but is less experimenting in her voice. If anything, she experiments with being a crooner on ‘Somewhere Tonight’, which goes down better than you’d expect.

What it’s important to note is that Thank Your Lucky Stars is clearly not Beach House’s Amnesiac. The songs come from another place, away from Depression Cherry. They have their own tone and musical style and is also rooted in early-to-mid 20th Century references. It is also much more mysterious, with its album artwork that looks more like their first two albums with its handcrafted diamonds and picture and has much less information given away about it prior to its release. This is Beach House at their most prolific, delivering both a grand statement with Depression Cherry and an understated gem with …Lucky Stars. But …Lucky Stars‘ impact shouldn’t be cheapened by Cherry’s greatness – it’s a record just as good as the one they just put out. How Beach House can simply put out two fantastic records in such a short timespan is a mystery to me, but they have done it. It would be interesting to see the response to a double album for Beach House considering how well these two albums worked, but as they’re so different in style it doesn’t make sense to couple them.

8/10

Funnel Recommends: She’s So Lovely / One Thing / Elegy To The Void

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