Beach House released their self titled debut 9 years ago and they're now gearing up to release Depression Cherry, their fifth album to date, this August. In preparation we have a look at some of their finest moments to date and what has defined them.

'Dream Pop' is the most used phrase associated with Beach House, but I think it's unfair. While they skirt pop and sound hazy, there's a lot of complexity to their music that has been brushed over, and too often they've been lumped in with whatever popular music genre associated with sunglasses comes out the year of their album (people that put Teen Dream down as chillwave - they borrow from Cocteau Twins not Thompson Twins). They've been around for almost a decade and it's time we look at them as an institution of smart and distinctive modern American music in the same way as we do with Deerhunter or The National.


There's no better way to understand Beach House than to listen to the first track from their 2006 self titled debut. 'Saltwater' told us all about them - a drum machine beat (not far off the then declining trip-hop), a hovering floating synth that sounded like it'd been drowned and an insatiable ear for a pop song. It sounded completely new and, while it was hardly complex, it sounded dirty and addictive. It sounded like Brian Wilson scoring Twin Peaks. It was perfect.

'Master Of None'

Still with their debut, 'Master Of None' showed us Victoria Legrand's expanded vocal range - for the first time we hear her set loose and try an actual pop vocal and it pays off brilliantly. She moves from a Mazzy Star style delivery to a (still somewhat subdued) Kate Bush tone, while she and Alex Scally make the perfect music box style backing to complete it. It's still, to current, one of the best tracks they've made.

'All The Years'

Devotion, their second album, was probably the closest to straight up pop they've done so far. It's no more apparent than in 'All The Years', the album centerpiece and probably one of the few songs that feels fully composed and thought through. Following on from the success of Beach House, they upped their production costs and made an album full of well-realised, cloudy slices of pop, with 'All The Years' being one of the real standouts.

'You Came To Me'

Legrand took on an almost Nico inflection here, using her vocal delivery to give the impression of something close to a lullaby set to a haunted music box backing. It was Beach House, but not as we knew them - it was their first foray into chopping up and changing their formula, something that they'd do a lot of in their albums after. They've suffered criticism in the past for sounding same-y - while there's definitely a very distinct 'Beach House sound' this song more than most proves that their repertoire is more than some give them credit for.


Arguably the release 2010's Teen Dream, their third album, was their break through, garnering a huge amount of press acclaim - it received a 9.0 from Pitchfork, and wound up in a huge proportion of end of year lists (it was narrowly pipped to our album of the year here by Deerhunter's Halcyon Digest). 'Zebra', lead single and album opener, was the first track to show us just what Beach House were capable of - the fuzz and charm from their debut combined with the more experimental and expansive use of song structures and techniques from their second to create a complete and assured new sound for them.

'Silver Soul'

Teen Dream had one of the greatest openings on an album ever made with 'Zebra', 'Silver Soul' then 'Norway'. 'Silver Soul' demonstrated that Beach House was more than a vehicle for Legrand's voice, and was one of the most well formed tracks to date. Scally's compositional work here was brilliant - the shuffling pace, the harmonies and the drone all come together to make a track that would have been as perfect as an instrumental as it was with Legrand's vocals.


Their biggest song from the album, it was the perfect mix of each element of their sound so far. Legrand's vocals took center stage, where she could deliver in her interrupted monotone for the verses while giving more for the chorus. It had the same haunted summery composition from Beach House with the higher value production and more complex song structures started by Devotion and, quite rightly, took them to fresh new audiences.


Continuing from their progression in Teen Dream, they made bigger strides in Bloom than anything before, expanding their sound and making bolder statements than ever before, which is most evident in standout and lead single 'Lazuli' which stands as their best composed and most elaborate song to date. Legrand's repeat of "Like no other, you can't be replaced" is one of those pop hooks that stays with you forever.

'The Hours'

Definitely their most pop and hook friendly track to date, 'The Hours' was their advancement of the Beach House hook classic - much like 'Zebra', 'Norway' and 'Saltwater' before it, it took a very Beach House style of composition and blurred the lines. It stands as one of the best demonstrations of leftfield pop ever made.


All of this leads us to 'Sparks', our first taste of Depression Cherry, the first Beach House album in three years. It keeps in the hooks and the fuzzy marching feel but changes up the instrumentation dramatically - far from the chilled out drum machine and misty synth that they've come to be known for they've injected it with the rustiness associated with the first album. It's still got their trademark walking pace but has generated an almost shoegaze feel and has eschewed their more complex pop compositions for a drone based melody. The track sits more comfortably with Galaxie 500 or Cocteau Twins than their previous takes on '60s pop. It's an exciting development and makes Depression Cherry one of the most anticipated albums this year.