I have a theory about Track 3. In my experience, Track 3 tends to be the most important song on a typical album, if not the “best” song, then the most representative one. I think maybe it’s because Track 1 is used to simply grab the listener’s attention; Track 2 is a cool down, and by Track 3 the listener is ready to understand the Big Picture being conveyed here. As bogus as my Track 3 theory may be, it works for the new Beach House album, “Depression Cherry” (SubPop). Here, Track 3 is a quintessentially Beach House-groovy wave pool of a song called “Space Song”… and sometimes I think ALL of Beach House’s songs should be called “Space Song.”
What makes “Space Song” so quintessential, and what’s so groovy about Beach House? They pick a mood and they stick to it, song after song, album after album. Whether you call it Dream Pop or Shoegaze or Stoner Pop (I just made that one up), the vibe is a mellow wash of guitar, synth, drum patterns and the lilting, often multi-tracked vocals of Victoria Legrand. I suspect that somewhere in the record crates of Legrand and Alex Scally there is a well-loved copy of the great Alpha album, “Come From Heaven” (Virgin/Melankolic, 1997), along with every obscure My Bloody Valentine EP ever created. “Depression Cherry” extends this moody lineage, something those of us looking for music to listen to alone late at night will be grateful for.
While “Depression Cherry” is admirably consistent in tone throughout, “Sparks” stands out for its relative intensity and noise, and “Wildflower” is one of the poppier tunes among the nine on the album. “Bluebird” is gorgeously melancholy, while “PPP” has an almost anthemic quality worthy of a classic Brian Wilson love song. And David Lynch, if you’re reading this: Should Julee Cruise ever be unavailable for your soundtrack needs, I think Beach House can fill in.
Buzzy Jackson's newest book is "The Inspirational Atheist: Wise Words on the Wonder and Meaning of Life" (Penguin/Plume). She writes for the Boston Globe and on her own blog at BuzzyJackson.com. Buzzy lives in Boulder, Colorado and she believes that, some day, Nick Cave and PJ Harvey will get back together.
They just have to.