Beach House, the pop duo out of Baltimore comprised of vocalist Victoria Legrand and multi-instrumentalist/singer Alex Scally, have been producing intimate, airy, occasionally dark and often massively affecting music for over ten years.
On August 28, they’ll return with Depression Cherry, their fifth full length and the follow-up to 2012’s much lauded collection Bloom. The new album’s lead single, “Sparks”, dropped Wednesday evening and exhales the last breath of the conversation Bloom began about shedding youth’s snake eyes, but does so over a fuller backing than they’ve offered before.
“It’s the keyboard we bought in Texas while we were recording Bloom,” Legrand tells EW of the effect. “The wild sound in there, it started with the keyboard and from there it just kept growing. The combination of that world and the guitar part that Alex came up with and then, actually a huge moment for the song, is the sample of my voice, that call at the beginning of the song—those all happened over a long period of time but when they all came together it was a moment of electricity.”
As for why “Sparks” was tapped as the single, Legrand says it’s not because they think it sounds like a hit. “I don’t think we really write hits,” she says. Rather, it’s because of the tune’s ability to bridge the gap between previous Beach House fare and Depression Cherry. “When you pick a single, you want to pick a gateway you’ve been gone for several years and you have to find what you feel is a nice beginning. ‘Sparks’ feels like a nice beginning of another place that still has some of the past in it.”
What is most reminiscent of the past in the tune is its meditation on “waking up,” being sparked into consciousness out of idle youth: “You go to school / You follow all the rules / You live inside / Realize / There’s something in your eyes / You’re back again.” She sings these lyrics in the penultimate verse—but as has always been the case with Beach House music, listeners shouldn’t expect any sort of explanation of the song from either Legrand or Scally anytime soon.
“I’m always going to be more interested in what other people have to say about it,” she explains. “Being surprised by reactions is one of our favorite things. [But] I think that there is definitely love inside of it—the idea that in this hopeless place or crazy world, there is still love inside of it. Despite all the craziness, there is a center somewhere.”
The intricate layering on “Sparks” is found all over Depression Cherry and a result of, as the singer says, just finally having enough time to do it. “With Bloom we had more urgency, this one was more the gift that time can give. We didn’t force anything and while we worked very hard, we had no timeline.”
The title itself arrived just as naturally. “The two words just came out of my mouth and they had never been side-by-side before—it was like a lightning bolt,” she shares. “It was just like ‘Depression Cherry’ and then it kept coming back as the title. We kept trying other ones but it wanted to be the title of the album. It can be mildly confrontational, it can be alluring, it can be abstract, it can be a color, it can be a feeling. We thought it was unique, even if it made people uncomfortable.”