This is Totally Not a Double Album - Beach House

On December 3, 2015

Images from SubPop

I must have listened to “Sparks” thirty times before I listened to the rest of Depression Cherry, waiting for it light me up in the way that the best Beach House songs do.  It only smoldered.

It wasn't until one day in the middle of September, when the dog days of summer began to fade into fall, that Depression Cherry finally caught fire.  That day, I came home, ate, and wasted time in my bedroom just like any other day, because I live at home to commute to work.  Later that night, I went down stairs, and sat on the couch with my mother, who was watching the news.  I started scratching my dog behind the ear.  “What are you doing?” my Mom asked.  She wasn't talking about scratching the dog.  You see, she saw a loop I had been caught in since I had settled into my new job.  Wake up, go to work, come home, go to my room, waste away, repeat.

I told her the only thing I could say with any honesty in that moment… “I don’t know.”  She asked me what I was writing, and after babbling a little bit about unfinished projects, and “waiting for the right time,” I realized that I hadn't actually written anything in months.  I was ignoring the best advice I had ever gotten from a career writer, my friend Eamonn's father, to me as an aspiring amateur author about to embark on a career in engineering.  “Don’t stop writing, because it’s hard to start again.”   After my mother and I were done talking, and she went to bed, I went to my room and listened to Depression Cherry for the umpteenth time.  Something clicked.

“There is no right time.”  Victoria told me, and had been telling me every time I had listened to “Levitation” before then.  I just wasn’t listening.  I was waiting for something, without even trying to find it.  Beach House say that they spend hours in the same melodic loop before they find the natural progression of their songs.  Those hours aren’t spent waiting, like I was.  They’re spent searching.  This natural progression that I was trying to find in my life endlessly repeating the same loop over and over again wasn’t going to come unless I found it for myself, and seized it.

“Fall back into place,” on Space Song, was no longer a justification of wasting an evening in the recliner, but instead a call to pull myself back to center and focus when I find myself drifting away.  “You built a city all in your head,” on Wildflower, no longer described a place where I could hide in my mind, but instead it pushed me to continue using my imagination to find a new path towards building something I can be proud of.  “When the unknown will surround you” became forever, and for once it didn’t scare me. I felt empowered.

Since then, I’ve been writing.  A lot.  I’m actually finishing songs, and recording things on my own.  They're not very good (in my opinion), because I’m still learning how to do things, but I’m actually letting myself fail and learn from my experiences. I’m working on my stories instead of just writing random things and never coming back to them. I know I’ll get better, now, because I’m trying.  I’m searching instead of waiting.  That’s what Beach House taught me in Depression Cherry.  It’s my call to try my very hardest, even though that means I’ll only going to fail.  “And when it’s dark again/ just like a spark,” I’ll try again.  Every time I delete a whole page or verse, or story, or song, the sense of failure gets smaller, until I finally pull off what I’ve been trying to do.  “And then it vanishes.”

If you look in the matrix of Depression Cherry, Thank Your Lucky Stars was under our needles the whole time.  The title was etched into every record for all to see.  Beach House, you sneaky, cheeky, beautiful pranksters.  Along with the album title is the line, “She’s a fire in the night,” in beautiful cursive etching.  Turns out, that line is from “All Your Yeahs,” which is also the song that made me realize the extent of the long con that Beach House played on me.  “It’s your life.  Do it right.  Give them love.” Victoria sings.  

If Depression Cherry gently levitated me out of an existential funk, Thank Your Lucky Stars feels like them checking up on me, and saying “Keep up the good work, kid.  Keep trying.  Keep falling.  Keep getting up.  Keep doing what you do best in a way that makes you better.”

Beach House called Thank Your Lucky Stars a more political album, but I found no preaching or finger wagging that is common in my least favorite political music.  Instead, it reminds me of my favorite quote from the comic book, Saga, which comes from a fake novel within the story. “Never worry what anyone thinks of you, because no one ever thinks of you.”  This could be read an excuse to act selfishly, since other people will always be selfish, but that’s not how I see it.  I see it as a call to only worry about what matters to you, and what you can do about it to better yourself.  I repeat it, like a mantra, in my mind any time I need to focus on making myself a little bit better, and ignoring others who may not have my best interests at heart.   "And when she asked me are we doing it right, Come a little closer you've got nothing left to hide."  Maybe, if everyone focused on bettering themselves more than arguing about what other people do, the world might get a little better every day.  Maybe.  If that’s not a radical political (or anti-political) statement, I don’t know what is.

If Beach House cared about what everyone else was doing, they wouldn’t have released two albums in two months, in this year of all years (2015 has been insane, yo, What a Time to Be Alive indeed, Drizzy and Future).  They might have waited for people to fully digest Depression Cherry, and get hungry for a new Beach House album.  Instead they snuck up on me, and I imagine they snuck up on a lot of you too.

I only cherry-picked a few lines from a few songs (arguably out-of-context) from these records for a reason, because they were the ones that stuck out to me. They were the ones where I found meaning, and could relate to specific moments in my life, and feelings that I am experiencing right now.  Beach House songs are universal in their emotional specificity, and we all have different things going on our lives that make us feel different things when we listen to them.  You may not need these songs in the same way that I do, right now, but rest assured that they will be there for you when you need them, in whatever way that you need them, if and when you let them in.  

Beach House also made sure to say that this was not a double album, or companion piece, or b-sides or what have you.  In most ways, that is entirely true.  Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars are wonderful albums that would stand on their own whether they were released two years, or even two decades, apart.  But, they were released a mere two months apart, and it just so happened that these were two months where I really needed these two Beach House records, at the same time and in the same sequence in which they released them.  They will forever be inextricably tied together in my heart and mind.  That totally makes it feel like a double album, to me.

Thank you, Beach House.  Thank you so much.

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