The seven year anniversary of Depression Cherry just passed, and it made me realize–it’s hard to find a more universally-loved band than Beach House. It served as my introduction to dream-pop, which then opened the doors to genres like shoegaze that I later explored. Though late to a genre paved by groups like the Cocteau Twins in the 80s, Beach House has been so consistently innovative throughout their hulk of a discography. It’s not the typical TikTok hit, which makes it so interesting that “Space Song,” for instance, has become one of the most popular tracks to ever hit the platform. Upon revisiting, its ability to appeal to all became much more apparent.
My personal favorite album from the Baltimore duo illustrates a return to simplicity for the band. Less of a fixation on live drums lends a more abstract feel to the project. This abstraction allows the listener to ascribe their own meaning to the songs, based more on the effect of the spacey instrumentals than any explicit lyrical content. Back in the day, this was a new concept to me, but one that really intrigued me. Depression Cherry became a formative album for me and many others–and continues to be timeless to this day.
Selections from Depression Cherry
Some of the first words Victoria Legrand speaks in track one, “Levitation,” calls out “there’s a place I want to take you.” There’s no better way to describe what Beach House does in Depression Cherry. A perfect introduction to the journey through space the album comes out to be, propelled by Legrand’s magical voice and the track’s twinkling instrumental. Themes of love, loss, grief, and heartbreak weave their way through this song as well as the rest of the album. “Beyond Love,” for instance, reminds me a lot of Twin Peaks. On the surface, the dreamy production elicits nostalgia and comfort–even with the juxtaposition of Legrand’s honest lyrics portraying heartbreak. The result is a malleable experience the listener can take with them. It can be enjoyed in any context.
It’s hard not to be swept away in the mystique when the latter half of the album contains just as much feeling as the former. In “10:37,” it isn’t until the organ hits when you are fully transported–launching like a rocket to space into the B-side of the album. The arpeggio found in “PPP” still gives me chills, the ascending synth notes reaching an ethereal climax. And don’t get me started on the slide guitar solo that closes out the track. It’s one of the first times I can remember a track tugging on my heart-strings without words, and to this day, it still hits home. It’s clear that Legrand and Scally were nowhere close to running out of ideas five albums in, with many moments across Depression Cherry retrospectively seen as their best. It also laid a foundation for the sonic textures the band would explore in later albums like 7 and Once Twice Melody, with more jagged renditions of their typical dreaminess. By all accounts, it is the ultimate fan-favorite.
Though maybe not as grandiose as its predecessors, Depression Cherry offers an transcendent emotional experience that sets it apart from Beach House’s other albums. It has a mutable quality that has made it a staple throughout my life, lending emotional support in my best and worst of times. The success of “Space Song” on social media along with the album’s popularity within the band’s discography illuminate how universal the emotions invoked in the album are. Equally as relatable to me as a high school student, as well as an adult.
And to the gatekeepers, I say let Gen-Z have this one! They deserve it.