While I consider Beach House to be a special sort of band, I’d never consider then to be particularly prolific. This is a band that takes a good couple years in between albums in order to cultivate and organically grow a Beach House record. That sort of melancholy and malaise doesn’t just grow on trees(unless you head up into Northern Michigan, there’s an orchard that…well, another time.) Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally tinker and hone their songs, and albums like Devotion, Teen Dream, Bloom, and their most recent record Depression Cherry are all the better for it. But just as the ink was drying on all those Depression Cherry reviews and aching hearts were healing from the final notes of that album’s closing song “Days of Candy”, Legrand and Scally announced they were releasing another album of all new material.
Thank Your Lucky Stars was released less than two months after Depression Cherry, and it acts as a bit of a rough-around-the-edges version of Beach House’s typical baroque sound. Some have said this is Beach House’s “rock” record, and I can’t necessarily argue with that.
The songs on Thank Your Lucky Stars were recorded during the Depression Cherry sessions, and they do encapsulate the wind-blown mood of that album; yet this new group of tunes offer a grittier take on the Beach House formula. Album opener “Majorette” has that dreamy, ethereal vibe with Legrand’s voice floating on a cloud of reverb and whimsy, but the instrumentation feels more direct. There’s less of the losing things in the ether and more feeling the low end in those programmed beats and calliope-like organ. “She’s So Lovely” feels gritty in the ears, like your listening to this on the beach as gale force winds put 50 lbs of sand in your face. It grinds slowly through four minutes of melancholy. “All Your Yeahs” feels a bit like The xx. It’s simpler and more direct than Beach House’s normal song structure. “One Thing” is as rock and roll as Legrand and Scally have gotten to this point. Distorted drums, guitars, and heavy organ offer a solid foundation for Victoria Legrand to emote beautifully. Watching them play this live you get the feeling these two really love to make some noise, with Legrand slapping the neck of her Strat till it starts to squeal feedback.
After you go through Thank Your Lucky Stars a few times you understand why these songs weren’t just tacked onto Depression Cherry and that album made into a double album. Despite many of the same moods and feels that permeate both records, they are indeed two very different vibes. There’s more of an in-the-moment vibe with Stars, and that makes this record very much a standalone experience. A song like “Elegy to the Void”, with it’s 80s synths and Motels-like vocals seems better suited in this environment than the sultry, lovelorn world of Cherry. “Rough Song” and album closer “Somewhere Tonight” both offer this alternate universe version a Coney Island sock hop slow dance. That vibe, while not entirely out of place in mood on previous Beach House albums, here seems to stand out more.
Thank Your Lucky Stars was a surprise, for sure. But it’s not a surprise that it’s a great album. While not as lush and layered as it’s predecessor, it’s still an album that grabs you and doesn’t let go. Repeated listens only enhance that. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have done it again.