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It's easy for artists in any medium to be seduced into believing their latest project must be more elaborate than what came before. On Depression Cherry, however, Beach House reject the notion that bigger is inherently better. Where Bloom took their crystalline dream pop to lavish heights, these songs revisit the simpler approach of Beach House and Devotion. While it's a bold choice, the results are delicate: even by Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand's standards, these songs are remarkably poignant and insular. Throughout the album, the duo conjures a feeling of intimacy surrounded by vastness, with "Space Song"'s arpeggiated keyboards suggesting stars shooting through an endless sky. Beach House's return to the unabashedly artificial sound of their early albums is a potent reminder of how well they contrast with Legrand's lush, empathetic vocals; on "Bluebird," she sings "I would not ever try to capture you" over a busy rhythm that calls attention to how clunky and mechanical it is. Her ability to sound at once comforting and heartbreaking on the bookends "Levitation" and "Days of Candy" speaks to the sensuous nature of Depression Cherry's, and Beach House's, melancholy; it's like a flavor or color that can be savored, even in its simplest incarnations. Scally and Legrand reintroduce some of Bloom's fullness on "PPP" -- which almost sounds like it was produced by Phil Spector compared to the rest of the album -- and "Sparks," which with its dense keyboards and cooing vocal harmonies could be a collaboration between Stereolab and My Bloody Valentine. Elsewhere, the influence of the duo's more recent work is more subtle, revealing itself in the sophisticated minimalism of songs such as "10:37." While it may not be as immediately inviting as Bloom or Teen Dream, Depression Cherry is more than just an admirable exercise in challenging conventional notions of success. It's a grower that demands and rewards close listening -- especially under headphones, where it unfolds like a spell cast just for the listener.
A1 Levitation 5:55
A2 Sparks 5:21
A3 Space Song 5:20
A4 Beyond Love 4:25
B1 10:37 3:49
B2 PPP 6:09
B3 Wildflower 3:39
B4 Bluebird 3:55
B5 Days Of Candy 6:16
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