Album Review: Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars

Beach House (a.k.a Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally) are a band that have been, if nothing else, remarkably consistent in their output. The duo had, until recently, released five albums of dependably high-quality dream pop at a rate of one every few years since their debut in 2006; the sudden announcement of a sixth full-length record to be released a mere two months after Depression Cherry has therefore come as something of a surprise. Thank Your Lucky Stars may have been recorded at the same time as its predecessor, but if you’re worrying that it might be nothing more than a collection of Depression Cherry’s cast-offs, think again.

The band have claimed that the songs on this album are more ‘political’ than those on Depression Cherry. Whether or not this necessarily comes across is debatable, but this record certainly constitutes a shift in tone for the duo. The first few bars of opening track ‘Majorette’ may contain many of the hallmarks we’ve come to expect from Beach House— dreamy arpeggios, a continuous organ drone, Victoria Legrand’s distinctive sustained vocal melodies— but the distorted guitar underneath suggests that we’re being lulled into a false sense of security. The instrumentation on this record sounds generally rawer and less polished, and it’s all the better for it; there are some lovely moments of dissonance in the organ parts that give the album just a touch of what’s probably the closest thing to lo-fi you’re ever going to get from Beach House.

“The instrumentation on this record sounds more raw, and it’s all the better for it”

There is, appropriately enough given its release date, a decided hint of autumnal chill to this record. The expansive, reverberating airiness of Teen Dream and Bloom have been stripped away for a gloomier and more claustrophobic sound; on ‘She’s So Lovely’, there are some gorgeous vocal harmonies that are sung mostly in conventional thirds but become tinged with spookiness thanks to Legrand’s way of subtly bending her pitch as she sings. This ghostly feel is especially prominent on closing track ‘Somewhere Tonight’, probably the biggest stylistic departure from any of their previous songs, with its 50s ballad influences and eerie descending organ.

There are points where Legrand and Scally’s focus on atmosphere seem to take precedent over other aspects of their songwriting, and this causes the album to drag a little, with songs like ‘Rough Song’ dependably conjuring up the band’s wistful aesthetic but ultimately allowing it to stagnate. You can’t help but think that a greater willingness to experiment with tempo would be welcome; the only time they really do, on ‘All Your Yeahs’, it provides some refreshing forward momentum. One of Beach House’s strengths is that they seem practically incapable of writing a bad song, but to a certain extent they are a band who appear to have found their formula early on and decided to stick with it, and their strongest moments on this album are those where they allow themselves to experiment a little with their genre. Nonetheless, if Thank Your Lucky Stars is another unmistakeable Beach House record, and a very good one.

Ruth Wogan

Follow Impact Music on Facebook and Twitter


Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham's IMPACT Magazine.

Leave a Reply