Beach House is a dream pop workhorse. Their latest studio album, Depression Cherry, received critical acclaim less than a month ago for the fuzzy textures which gave it a distinct place in the Beach House canon. Now, Thank Your Lucky Stars is upon us with no prerelease hype or warning whatsoever. While these nine new compositions were reportedly gleaned from the Depression Cherry recording sessions, they stand up as more than a collection of outtakes or b-sides. There’s an instrumental and narrative cohesion to these nine tracks, much like there was with this year’s previous offering, but they’re tonally opposed to each other.
Depression Cherry’s plain red album cover truthfully sold itself as Beach House’s warmest and most emotionally one-sided record to date and they haven’t lost their marketing acumen. Thank Your Lucky Stars’ cover art features a black and white portrait of a young girl, evoking a very different feeling than Depression Cherry, but wholeheartedly living up to its promises. The most common criticism thrown at Beach House is that they’re tonally stagnant. There’s no basis for those accusations anymore. Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars both sounded unlike anything Beach House has done before, but also completely unlike each other. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally are showing themselves to be able to evolve their sound far more than I had reasonable hope for a few years ago, while simultaneously branching their music out into two different directions.
The contents of Thank Your Lucky Stars are only surprising because of what Depression Cherry did earlier this year. Legrand seemed to have dropped her usual emotional turbulence for straight-faced life observations ran through a filter of glassy-eyed wonder. She was very much an observer on Depression Cherry, but Thank Your Lucky Stars sees her return to the pilots seat. These are some of Beach House’s most nuanced tunes in a while. Legrand’s hauntingly beautiful voice seems to steer the gentle keyboard pulses and sheets of electric guitar in and out of the emotional mountains and valleys in her songwriting. Beach House songs have rarely felt so purposeful with such a clear sense of direction. “All Your Yeahs” and “Elegy to the Void” are standout tracks, revitalizing and refining ideas the band explored on previous projects. This lends the project an air of familiarity, but the distinct emotional niche this collection occupies gives the record a unique and much appreciated place in the Beach House canon.