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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Beach House: Thank Your Lucky Stars


1) Majorette; 2) She's So Lovely; 3) All Your Yeahs; 4) One Thing; 5) Common Girl; 6) The Traveller; 7) Elegy To The Void; 8) Rough Song; 9) Somewhere Tonight.

Well, yes, thank your lucky stars that instead of releasing one huge album, Alex and Victoria decided to split it in two and put out two small packages — because, honestly, there is no stylistic difference whatsoever between Depression Cherry and its unexpected follow-up, and the very decision to have it out seems to me as largely a show of artistic unpredictability: these days, we are so totally unaccustomed to artists coming up with new product so quickly that «wow, Beach House actually managed to release two albums in one year!» will probably be a hotter topic for discussion than the essence of the albums in question.

As for that essence, well... here we have nine more Beach House songs that are totally typical Beach House songs, not a single one breaking the mold of Depression Cherry, which, in turn, stretches all the way back to the mold of Beach House. Same vocal and instrumental textures, same recycled ideas. Had they had the nerve to come up with two such albums in rock music's golden age, critics would have immediately written them off as conservative has-beens, only too happy to jump the shark in their washed-up smugness; today, both albums seem to be getting rave reviews from critics who have completely forgotten what it is to think big, and it drives me nuts, and the only explanation is that they take Beach House to be little more than a set of pretty sounds that constitute food for the brain much the same way as regular food constitutes food for the stomach. A couple hours for digestion, and then...

...the problem is, why would we want to spend money or extra effort on it, when we have the old records? Oh, that's right: Beach House and Devotion were then, and Thank Your Lucky Stars is now. This is supposed to be more contemporary, more relevant, more relatable to the way they — and you — feel today about stuff. This is Beach House Vista, 2015 edition. Unfortunately, I haven't quite forgotten the old edition yet, and as a (potentially) paying customer, I see no seri­ous incentive for upgrading. I want floating icons and shit, goddammit. I have no problem giving an extra spin to ʽGilaʼ or ʽUsed To Beʼ instead of saying, "oh wait, I have already listened to these songs once, have I? What kind of idiot would want to listen to the same song twice? Now a dif­ferent song that sounds exactly like those two, but with slightly different chords — that's far more suitable for a true music lover's ears!"

Okay, I apologize and will try to atone by saying a few good things about these songs. (They're actually quite nice songs, by the way — it's not their fault that their so-called authors have de­cided to, like, write them). ʽShe's So Lovelyʼ is a stately, melancholic, slide guitar-embellished lesbian anthem (I have no idea about Victoria's sexual orientation, but in Beach House's fantasy world, the very idea of sexual orientation may be completely different from our usual ones anyway) — the vocal modulations on the verses have a strangely tragic aspect, though. ʽAll Your Yeahsʼ starts off with a somewhat unusually ominous, maybe even nervous guitar line — too nervous for this band, whose emotions usually run in perfectly formed and balanced sinusoids. ʽElegy To The Voidʼ must have been inspired either by Mozart's Requiem, or by ʽComfortably Numbʼ, or by both — and it eventually culminates in an aggressively howling solo (yes, it must be the void — it heard the elegy, and now it's coming for you!). ʽRough Songʼ is this band's equi­valent of The Rolling Stones' ʽGirls Need More Respectʼ... wait, what are you saying? the Stones never had a song like that? well, Beach House never had any «rough songs» either. This one, in particular, is as smooth as Victoria's... oh never mind.

I enjoyed listening to the record, but a thumbs up? You gotta be kidding. These guys are, like, artists. Evolve, goddammit. Do not confirm my pessimistic suspicions that there's no direction left to evolve. Don't give me these multiple entities beyond necessity. And do not think you can get away by simply naming your album after a nearly-forgotten TV show. Or should this be taken as a hint that from now on, your output will be as interchangeable as most of the hit singles they broadcast on it circa 1961?

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