Album of the Week: Beach House, 'Thank Your Lucky Stars'

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Beach House, 'Thank Your Lucky Stars'
Beach House, 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' (Sub Pop Records)

When Beach House announced their newest album, Thank Your Lucky Stars, most of the attention was immediately directed towards the fact that their previous album, Depression Cherry, had arrived only two months prior. For a band with such a meticulous approach toward their music, it was naturally surprising that after spending three years constructing their new album, they had another batch of songs to release so soon. The band emphasized from the beginning that "It's not a companion to Depression Cherry or a surprise or b-sides."

In other words, Thank Your Lucky Stars isn't a sequel (à la Beck's Morning Phase) or a companion (à la Radiohead's Amnesiac) or a collection of leftovers (à la any band who include a bonus disc with a reissue of the album). Thank Your Lucky Stars is its own singular piece, and while the motives of the band were and continue to be dissected and analyzed, the quality of Thank Your Lucky Stars speaks for itself.

In the media cycle leading up to Depression Cherry, the band noted that they were trying to return to the sound of their earlier albums. The joke therein, of course, is that Beach House's defining characteristic is their ability to sound like themselves: ethereal, echoing, gorgeous and whatever other adjectives you could yank from reviews of any other record in their catalog. If anything, Depression Cherry makes more sense now, when viewed as the band's exacting attempt to fit into their own sound; one can almost sense a pressure to fit into those same specific tenets. Thank Your Lucky Stars, then, feels like a loosening of those bounds. The genesis and motivations behind the album proper may never be fully clear, but my theory is this: After crafting Depression Cherry to fit within specific parameters, the music that would form Thank Your Lucky Stars flowed out with such looseness and abundance that the band realized that the sessions had produced a classic in their own right.

Thank Your Lucky Stars features some of Alex Scally's most visceral guitar work to date; of particular note are the tremendous jam "Elegy to the Void," the arpeggiated lines of "Majorette," and his heartrending solo at the end of "One Thing." Victoria Legrand remains an equally vital pillar of the band, whether bittersweet on "Majorette," forceful on "The Traveller," or crooning on album closer "Somewhere Tonight" (which mirrors Depression Cherry closer "Days of Candy" in feeling like a lost standard from the 1950s).

To assess or rank Beach House albums is a bottomless exercise: It's difficult to come up with any concrete arguments one way or the other on the merits of any given record, aside from the emotions evoked. On that basis, Thank Your Lucky Stars is another resounding success from a band whose music, while always melancholic, is always some of the most beautiful of any given year. In 2015, we have been thusly blessed twice over.

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