Beach House released their fifth album Depression Cherry to widespread critical acclaim and a second straight top ten debut on the Billboard album chart only seven weeks ago. With fans still absorbing the album’s swirling beauty, the duo made the surprise announcement via social media that an entirely new studio album — the aptly titled Thank Your Lucky Stars — would be available in mid-October. It’s yet another thread pulled in the slow unravelling of the music industry’s outdated model of months of lavish and expensive buildup. After all, with major artists like Radiohead and Beyoncé dropping new albums with barely a word of warning, a month and a half is practically an eternity. Thank Your Lucky Stars is evidently not meant to be considered a companion album. The band states only that “it was recorded at the same time as Depression Cherry, but for us, it’s very much a different record.”
There are indeed differences between Thank Your Lucky Stars and its very recent predecessor, albeit minor ones. Beach House have always been more about mood and feeling than sharp melodies, a fusion of Mazzy Star and My Bloody Valentine slow-diving under a valium haze. Thank Your Lucky Stars is certainly well in tune with the rest of their catalog. That said, it’s more haunted and spectral, as if Depression Cherry is afternoon fading into dusk and Thank Your Lucky Stars is much later the same weary night. The songs on Depression Cherry are more mannered and precise, not quite as raw. But any stylistic differences are ephemeral which, of course, is not at all a bad thing. Beach House once again has us drifting slowly in musical space. Reverbed guitars, lushly layered keyboards, Victoria Legrand’s voice rising from the murk like a wounded spirit… Thank Your Lucky Stars is hypnotic head trip music of the highest caliber.
“Majorette” begins the album with a few rattles of the drum kit, followed by a swollen wave of velvety keyboard and guitar. Legrand’s vocal is crystalline loveliness, always flowing with the music rather than cutting against. “She’s So Lovely” is particularly beguiling, a swaying gothic slow dance of funereal grace. Bright pulses of synthesizer give “All Your Yeahs” a vaguely new wave feel. The plodding drums and churning guitar on “One Thing” are strongly redolent of the Cure’s Pornography album but without all the tortured anguish and rage.
“Common Girl” is built on a creepy carousel organ that circles the echoey vocals with menace. “The Traveller” has a Velvet Underground vibe, as if Nico had stayed around for their mellow third album. The somber groove continues on “Elegy to the Void”, another coolly remote piece that seems shrouded by wisps of fog. “Rough Song” has the air of a demo recorded with an old Casio keyboard on a four-track in a bedroom, but is undeniably alluring. The album’s stunning closer, “Somewhere Tonight”, is a darkly elegant waltz with an almost orchestral grandeur.
Thank Your Lucky Stars isn’t a companion to Depression Cherry; it’s the moody younger sibling who lives in the basement writing poetry. Still, they operate in the same sonic territory, and are nearly the same length. It’s the continuation of a wonderful thread that begins with Beach House’s debut album nearly a decade ago. Yeah, it’s easy to pick out a dozen or more bands that you can hear in bits and pieces throughout the album, but Beach House weave their influences so well that it seems churlish to dismiss them as unoriginal. Thank Your Lucky Stars is melancholy beauty. It’s music for late nights, for falling adrift in slow dark waters and gazing numbly at the glowing moonlight.