Surprise record releases have become an entrenched fixture of the music world, but this one was particularly unexpected. It’s just not too often that an artist decides to debut a new album a little less than two months after dropping its last one. And yet here we are with a new record from the Baltimore-based pop duo Beach House to bask in just a short bit after the group debuted its critically lauded fifth record, Depression Cherry. It’s a ballsy move, and one more calculated than it seems in the abstract.
Amid a series of tweets announcing Thank Your Lucky Stars, Beach House went out of its way to claim that this record is a wholly new document meant to stand apart from Depression Cherry, but realistically, that assertion is a little bit disingenuous. That’s not to say that this work is supplemental to that record, or a collection of B-sides and scraps, but it is most assuredly a continuation of many of the same motifs and hallmarks of the group’s last release. That’s in no way a bad thing. Depression Cherry was an excellent collection of hazy dream-pop tracks, and the same can be said of Thank Your Lucky Stars.
Ironically, given their respective titles, what distinguishes these two records from each other is mood: Thank Your Lucky Stars strikes a notably downcast tone and posture when stacked next to Depression Cherry. There’s nothing about these songs that is outright melancholic, but there’s also nothing that reaches the same shimmering highs as, say, “Levitation” or “Space Song” on the earlier work, either. The closest this record comes to matching that level of majesty is the album opener “Majorette” and the closing track “Somewhere Tonight.”
Sandwiched between those two songs is an array of fantastically subdued and beautifully constructed dreamy psych-pop offerings that each possess their own unique vibe. Beach House has mastered the art of space by this point and seems to have an instinct for how long to drag out a keyboard melody or a guitar line before bringing in another element to keep things from bogging down. This is especially true on “Elegy To The Void,” which is carried along at a meandering pace by the same reverb-drenched guitar melody pattern, shifted into different chords and matched by an atmospheric synth.
As ever, Victoria Legrand’s ethereal voice brings in the dream element to the duo’s signature dream-pop sound. She floats through each track like a warm, comforting haze, allowing Alex Scally’s guitar to do most of the work shaping the particular mood of each song. The lyrics remain characteristically vague. You’re left to wonder if the “she” in “She’s So Lovely” is the same “she” that Legrand sings about in “All Your Yeahs” and “Common Girl.” Maybe the “she” is Legrand, but maybe “she” isn’t. Maybe the “she” isn’t even a “she” at all.
It’s might actually be to the benefit of both this record and Depression Cherry that Beach House didn’t fold all of its gathered material into one singular, unwieldy double album. Short attention spans combined with these atmospheric, slowly paced psychedelic ballads could have made for a monumental slog. It would have been a shame for Thank Your Lucky Stars to have been misspent or glossed over; as is, the full sonic and emotional weight is tremendous.