Over four alluring albums, Beach House have managed the rare trick of evoking bliss and loss in equal strength. Guitarist Alex Scally's extravagant melodies bloom slowly over grooves that pulse like waves; singer Victoria Legrand's vocals echo Fleetwood Mac's lush folk rock, Cocteau Twins' surreal dreams and Nico's spooky drama. The Baltimore duo's fifth album sticks to that signature sound, and go figure: A formula that might seem limiting feels instead like it can contain entire worlds.
Depression Cherry opens on a sustained organ chord and crisp cymbal pattern, the image of a longhaired couple after midnight, and Legrand beckoning the listener inside. "There's a place I want to take you," she sings, over a subtle beat that builds toward a pop crescendo that never quite comes. Who needs it to? Foreplay this good is an end unto itself. Throughout the album, Legrand's lyrics conjure vivid experience. "Sparks" considers a brilliant hallucination that cruelly disappears — but which it might be possible to reclaim through love, or art. "From my mouth to yours," she sings amid Scally's guitar shudders. The surprise: "Days of Candy," with its Beach Boys-style chorale and Legrand repeating, "I know it comes too soon." She surely means something bigger, but if "it" meant only the end of this gorgeous 45-minute album, the singer would still be spot on.