Beach House

Thank Your Lucky Stars

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It's a small, but significant, detail that live drums are the first thing listeners hear on Thank Your Lucky Stars. Though "Majorette" soon unfolds into the swirling, twinkling, snow-globe beauty for which Beach House are well-known -- some might say too well-known -- the moment captures the tiny yet notable ways Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally tinker with their sound on their second release of 2015. Arriving just two months after Depression Cherry, Thank Your Lucky Stars was recorded at the same time as that album; while it's tempting to say the duo should've combined the best songs from each into one work -- or released them as a double album -- their vibes are distinct. Stars' songs were written after Depression Cherry, and express the simplicity Beach House craved after the massive-sounding Bloom in a very different way. Where its predecessor floated by in a beautiful blur that made the most of Scally and Legrand's impressionistic powers, Thank Your Lucky Stars is a collection of shorter, distinct songs rather than a mood piece. Even the old saying the duo chose for the album title hints that this is a less abstract affair than Depression Cherry. There's a lot of heart in these songs, particularly in Legrand's vocals: on the aptly named "Rough Song," she's raw and unfettered, a sharp contrast to Depression Cherry's ethereal purity. The focus on her voice also spotlights the album's lyrics in a way unique for Beach House. On "She's So Lovely," Legrand traces a relationship's decay with small shifts, the hook "All I have to do/Is everything for you" souring into "All I have to do/Is stay away from you." Interestingly, Thank Your Lucky Stars' more down-to-earth approach allows the duo to cover more musical ground. "All Your Yeahs" is one of Beach House's most driven songs, charting a more purposeful course from brooding to joyous than they've taken in the past, while "One Thing"'s Velvet Underground-like thump is surprisingly heavy. Elsewhere, Scally and Legrand get (relatively) more eclectic: "Common Girl" sounds like Nico fronting Broadcast, while "The Traveller" borrows some of Goldfrapp's gliding elegance. Nevertheless, the album's most beautiful moments are unmistakably Beach House. "Elegy to the Void" -- which might be the most Beach House-esque song title ever -- is elevated by a stratospheric guitar solo. Later, the gorgeous finale "Somewhere Tonight" proves Legrand and Scally are among the few 21st century musicians capable of updating '50s slow dance swoon without a hint of schmaltz or irony. In its own way, Thank Your Lucky Stars is just as rewarding as Depression Cherry, and arguably more immediate. Instead of releasing another mammoth effort like Bloom, they've delivered two smaller-scale triumphs that can be appreciated separately or together.

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