When “Thank Your Lucky Stars” was announced via Beach House’s Twitter account last week, they stressed that the album was not a “companion” to their recently released “Depression Cherry,” nor was it a collection of b-sides. Slipped into the announcement was the claim that this album was not a “surprise.” Given that “Depression Cherry” was released, oh, two months ago, after the band hadn’t released any new material since 2012’s excellent “Bloom”, that claim should be taken with an enormous grain of salt.
This was absolutely a surprise release; indie posturing non-withstanding, “Thank Your Lucky Stars” finds Beach House moving in an interesting direction for the second time this year (last mention of that, I promise). It’s practically bare-bones by their standards, largely eschewing the theatrical reverberations that have come to define their sound. That’s not to say the dreamy quality is gone—“Somewhere Tonight” and “All Your Yeahs,” the two best tracks on the album, sound like the slow dance you’d play at the trippiest prom of 1984. And ,it works.
Whereas “Depression Cherry” felt more focused on Alexander Scally’s guitar, “Thank Your Lucky Stars” puts the spotlight back on Victoria Legrand’s voice. The result is a sound that hearkens back to Beach House’s pre-Sub Pop days, especially on “Common Girl.” The opening keyboards are a dead ringer for “Wedding Bell” (from 2008’s “Devotion”), which feeds the notion that the band can sometimes cannibalize their own sound. Certainly, on the opener, “Majorette,” the word “B-side” comes to mind.
However, after that opening hiccup, the rest of the album pays tribute to Beach House’s past while also imbuing it with a newfound confidence and wisdom. Out with the timidity of Beach House past; in with a Legrand who sounds steely and battle-tested. “The Traveller” sounds like their take on The Doors, and it also happens to be one of the most fun songs they’ve ever recorded to boot. The other side of the coin is “Elegy to the Void,” a six and half minute slow burner that finds Beach House at their most dark and unhinged (“Black clock looming distant/You’re a great white”). Scally’s guitar has never sounded like this, a screeching car crash that is wholly unique within their discography. It signals a really intriguing future for the duo.
So, yes, the “not a surprise” album ended up actually being pretty surprising.
Bernstein is a member of
the class of 2018.