Another instant Beach House classic.
Just nine days before its release, Beach House announced that they would be putting out their sixth studio album, Thank Your Lucky Stars. With amazingly short notice, the album comes only a few months after their fifth studio album, Depression Cherry. It is important, as the band has pointed out, not to view Thank Your Lucky Stars as a “companion to Depression Cherry, or a surprise, or b-sides.” Although it was recorded in the same sessions as Depression Cherry, the album has a wholly different feel and certainly stands apart from their previous release.
Beach House, particularly the French born singer/keyboardist Victoria Legrand, have always taken great care to protect their vision and the integrity of the band in general. After the release of Bloom in 2012, they took a short break, mostly due to the fact that they were unhappy with their sound touring with a live drummer. Legrand also seemed to feel almost completely drained creatively, stating in an interview, “I didn’t feel creative at all…I just thought well, maybe I’ll never have another musical thought.”
We can all be thankful that wasn’t true and Beach House are back doing what they do best: crafting extremely emotive songs built around lilting keyboard hooks that impress with their seeming simplicity and Legrand’s cloudy vocals underpinned by Alex Scally’s impeccable, purposeful guitar licks. Like so much of their previous work, each track feels intensely labored over. You can hear the careful thought that went into writing each song. Each melody, the sounds of the backing drums, the subtle fuzzed out guitar riffs that hide in the background of many of the tracks, each line sung has been perfected.
Thank Your Lucky Stars opens with a track which feels like a quintessential Beach House song that could fit in perfectly with previous releases Teen Dream or Bloom. “Majorette” starts with a lone drum beat that expands into the arpeggiated guitar playing, the orchestral chords and Legrand’s dulcet voice that make up the Beach House ethos.
The “essential Beach House sound” penetrates the entire album. Both the album’s second track, “She’s So Lovely,” and the sixth track, “The Traveller,” relish in the the somber nature of their work and their close attention to melodic hooks. With each track, you find another instantly catchy keyboard line or guitar riff. The same can be said of finale track “Somewhere Tonight,” a song that sounds heavily influenced by doo-wop chord changes and arrangement, as does the expansive seventh track “Elegy to the Void.”
“Common Girl” is a paired down waltz number with more complicated keyboards than you hear on a lot of their other work. Similarly, “All Your Yeahs,” the third track, is a more minimalistic song that feels as if it were recorded in a giant cathedral. Though the reverb has been dialed back somewhat on Thank Your Lucky Stars, they still know when to soak a song in it.
What really stands out when you try to compare Thank Your Lucky Stars and this summer’s Depression Cherry is the fact that so much of their latest release feels so essentially Beach House. They have figured out and worked extremely diligently to stay true to their sound since their self-titled debut in 2006. When you look back through their catalogue, what you see are expertly forged, extremely emotive songs that all complement the band’s common vision, and Thank Your Lucky Stars is, of course, no deviation from this pattern. It is an album that can only be described as another instant Beach House classic.