Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House have a new album coming out later this month, Depression Cherry, and they've just released two new singles — but you'll have to do a little work if you want to hear them. "PPP" and "Beyond Love" are streaming on the band's website within a feature called "Single Finder," which gives you one of three tracks to stream — the two above and previously released single "Sparks" — based on your favorite songs from the band's discography. Their single finder was released alongside another new feature, "Setlist Creator," which allows fans attending a specific show to pick three songs they want to hear at said show. The resulting selections are going to influence the band's setlists throughout their upcoming world tour.
At a time when every music streaming service under the sun is trying to set themselves apart through curated listening experiences, this is a neat example of what I'm calling "microcuration": a personalized experience taking place within a single band's discography. In this case, the curation is lent a bit of additional credibility by the fact that the band directed the song selection process, rather than relying on an outside expert or an entirely algorithmic system. If anyone's qualified to parse the differences between songs in the band's discography, it's probably the people who wrote and performed them. (This is especially true in the case of Beach House, a band renowned for their thorough exploration of a narrow musical lane and subtle shifts between records.)
"For us, it’s always a strange moment when a single has to be chosen," said the band on their Facebook page. "No one song ever feels like a perfect representative for a record. This device allows you all to choose the three songs you have enjoyed most in the past and have a 'single' chosen for you based loosely on what we consider to be musical similarities." The single finder and setlist creator could also be used to conduct a bit of market research, if the band were so inclined — both tools are going to yield plenty of information about fans' musical preferences and locations.
Like any curated experience, the single finder isn't foolproof
Of course, like any curated experience, the single finder isn't quite foolproof. My favorite of the new songs is "PPP," a grand, polyrhythmic waltz that feels like it was written to soundtrack a short film — but the single finder suggested I check out "Beyond Love" instead.
Depression Cherry comes out August 28th.