Dream pop, a lesser known genre of music, is any song, album, or group that features breathy vocals and ethereal sounds. Featured in this genre are group such as M83, My Bloody Valentine, and Sigur Rós (one of the artists who inspired the 1975). Many other artists (Halsey, The 1975, Sufjan Stevens) touch on this genre in a song or two. But Beach House has slammed the sound out of the metaphorical water with their new album, Depression Cherry.
The first track, Levitation, starts with the classic dreamy-sounding instrumentals, before adding in the breathy, soft vocals that dream pop is generally known for. The strange quality of the sound makes it almost impossible to tell what instruments were used in the recording of this music, and while the vocals aren’t incredibly impressive, they do have a beautiful, smooth quality not unlike Sufjan Stevens. The first track ends in culminating sound, while the rest of the instruments slowly fade into the background noise. Sparks, the second song, begins with harmonized, layered vocals that almost sound like a choir, before adding in slide guitar riffs. While the tone quality is unique and the music isn’t necessarily bad, the first two songs sound almost too similar, and the music is slow. Sparks does pick up more than Levitation, especially in the chorus, but it still sounds like more of a quiet song to play while you’re trying to fall asleep than one you would listen to normally. Space Song changes it up a bit in the beginning, adding in obvious beats and a slightly brighter sound. The vocals are higher than the first two, but still possess the gentle quality that might make them a bit tedious to someone accustomed to quicker music. However, around the middle, there’s bouncier, more colorful sounds. The fourth track, Beyond Love, brings in a beat at the very beginning, which, quite comically, sounds like one of the prerecorded beat tracks on a musical keyboard. Since all of the other tracks have such a long lead-in, and Beyond Love is the shortest so far, it’s over far too soon, leading us into 10:37. The fifth track, it starts off with syncopated beats and little to no background sound. The vocals are less layered and more echoey, too, making this the most unique song thus far. However, PPP quickly challenges that title, with quieter vocals contrasting a more prominent melody. The second-longest song on the album, PPP features vocals that almost sound 80s-esque, and spoken word parts that are almost melodramatic. Wildflower, the shortest on the album, seems to have no clear structure making it nearly impossible to tell the chorus apart from the verses. Days of Candy, the last song, begins with choir vocals, and the main vocals hit impressive high notes. However, it is clear that the singer has more of a head voice than a belt – this is very common in dream pop. The longest song, Days of Candy seems to drag on until it ends with fading sound.
Although there are only nine songs on the album, the shortest song hits 3:39, and the longest stands at 6:16. While personally I feel that the music is too slow and similar, Beach House certainly does encompass dream pop, and with Depression Cherry, has set a high bar for the genre that will be hard for other artists to challenge.