If Beach House were more, well, beachy, this would be the result. Although I’m sure Pure Bathing Culture wouldn’t want to hear that comparison too much. Pray for Rain sounds like relaxation in either the hazy sun or wispy fog. However, they still make sure to pepper in plenty of lyrical darkness.
Much of it is done so vaguely. Opener “The Tower” is allegedly on the topic of that missing Malaysian Airline a while back, but there’s little there to explicitly mark it as such. The whammy guitar chords and lazy maracas might as well have those missing passengers sipping margaritas. The following title track (and lead single) puts the most empowering indie euphoria possible without veering into dumbed-down territory while outing the listener as someone “cut in two [minds]/cut all the way through,” unable to decide whether they’re “careless” and aggressive or a “shadow” lurker:
The whole album keeps this sonic blend of indie pop, 80s synth action, and a strange island feel, without veering too far into any territory. They also, in indie fashion, tackle the shortfalls of “best intentions” and other faults that lie in all of us. As such, it avoids pitfalls (except for maybe “Palest Pearl”). They make a point not depend too heavily on the lyrical doom-and-gloom tactic, such as this sweet little dedication:
All of this has the songwriter chord progression chops of someone with some jazz learning under their belt, which can also definitely be said for Sarah Vesprille’s vocal melodies.
If Top-40 synth-pop were a straight sugar cube, then Pray for Rain would be a mango smoothie; sometimes the chemically lowest common denominator just makes your teeth hurt, and this just tastes better. This could soothe droves of fans instead of blow them away, and it’ll do it with just enough sophistication to not give you an angry headache. That, and it still won’t lose its catchy immediacy.