A wonderful addition to a contemporary classic band
It is safe to say that Beach House has solidified its legacy in the music industry. With its distinct dream-pop sound, it is hard to not stumble across Beach House in one way or another. From their heralded record Depression Cherry, the band has ventured into a grandiose vision for their newest work. As a double album, its run time is nearly an hour and a half. However, it does not seem idle or bloated. In a way, this is Beach House at its best. It’s no secret that Beach House just sounds beautiful, with its breathy vocals and melodic instrumentals, there is a haunting presence about them that never really escapes. For their first album in nearly four years, Once Twice Melody does not disappoint long-time fans of the band and its aesthetic.
“Superstar” is one of the more rock-leaning tracks on the album, as it maintains an interesting balance between the repetitive hook and vocal performance. Personally, it is the closing that really sells the song, as it falls into a more experimental pathway to entropy. The notes blend before being punctuated through an electronic riff with notes of distortion at play. It has an interesting tone, crafting an edge to the album unseen in earlier records from Beach House.
“Pink Funeral” has a descent to experimental sounds that particularly stands out in the record, as it takes the dissonant sounds and plays up the image of the ballet Swan Lake. The dark imagery makes a beautiful haze, creating a fascinating contrast that interplays with itself. From the sweeping instrumentals that evoke the classical music of ballet with more electronic elements, Beach House distinctly creates perhaps one of the best songs in their oeuvre. The horror of death with the vision of ballet is beautiful. Their transportive nature is at its finest.
In the second disc, the song “ESP” acts as a stand-out. Turning more to a ballad, there is a beautiful use of strings to create the feeling of heartbreak. Instead of actually having a sixth sense, the singer describes how the signs are obvious that romance is over. It is a heartbreaking song, almost sounding like a eulogy. The vocals become more dismal than earlier tracks of the album, growing more hardened as the album goes on.
This flows seamlessly into “New Romance,” which acts as a way of admitting wrongdoing. This sounds more electronically-based than its counterpart but still has that dream-pop feeling. Twinkling piano keys try to soften the blow of the relationship ending depicted in the lyrics. The percussion, however, perhaps does the most work here, as it drives the song home in a way that really creates its sense of finality. It is clear, especially in tracks like this, that Beach House aims to create new perspectives to their music-making process, with varying success.
“Sunset” is drastically more acoustic than previous tracks on the record, yet it sounds absolutely mesmerizing. Even with glittering production, there is an incredible amount of intimacy in this song that is rare for a band known for its meditative and transportive work. It’s a testament to the versatility of their work, as it still maintains a sense of beauty with dark, dismal lyrics.
However, at times it seems like the sounds quintessential to Beach House blend into its extended runtime. “Only You Know” and “Another Go Round” seems to hit very similar notes, both thematically and musically. This is not to say that there are no highlights on the final parts of the album, however. “Masquerade” has a heavy bassline, with a distinct break from the pretty sounds of previous songs to delve into a distorted chorus. When the band dips its toes into a darker sound in this album, it seems to pay off dividends, as it suits the group well.
Of all of the sounds of the album, it all culminates into its final track: “Modern Love Stories.” Combining the more experimental notes with dream-pop, there is a powerful feeling in its finality. It’s declarative, with some of the strongest writing on the album. It shines as a way to turn the album on its head, culminating it all in a way that still leaves room for interpretation and ambiguity. Personally, the acoustic touch really strengthens the end, as it creates an intimacy and connection that really hits home with all of the phenomenal production on the album.
Once Twice Melody is a standing testament to a band committed to its sound. Passion shines through every moment, with songs that have the exact notes fans of the genre wish. It’s transcendent, the way that Beach House fans love to listen. It’s them at their highest, taking their sound to lengthy heights. While all might not pay off, it certainly has a feeling of novelty and beauty that they are known for.