Once Twice Melody by Beach House Album Review by Mark Crickmay for Northern Transmissions

Sub Pop Records/Bella Union

8.6

Beach House

Once Twice Melody

Soft sonic symphonies of mercurial melodies, immersing soundscapes and whimsical, velvety vocal arrangements — the Beach House duo does it again with “Once Twice Melody”. Perfectly orchestrated, the duo weave in and out of uplifting crescendos and melancholy undertones. It’s safe to say that even eight studio albums in, the duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally show no sign of slowing down, comparable to the likes of Nico and Cocteau Twins, yet easily in a league of their own.

“Once Twice Melody” delivers the duo’s signature sonic sound of clean shimmering guitar lines, driving synth bass and softly distorted analogue synth pads yet with playful twists woven throughout. The duo constantly push and pull listeners with their control of melody as they synchronously toy with uplifting aria’s cloaked in delicately wrenching melodies. Sometimes letting listeners share in their inner child with a lullaby like anima and other times fawning with their wisdom and perspective such as on ‘Pink Funeral’.

The struggle between dark and light energy flows evenly with Beach House as they guide listeners on a journey silhouetted by lace-drawn veils and plush, satiating analogue dreams. ‘Through Me’ takes listeners on a lullaby woven through heartbeat-like cadences, saturated guitar lines and dreamy arpeggiated keys ending with rhythmic tributes to hip hop. ‘Runaway’ sees our melancholy heroes pay homage to an era where Tears For Fears and Simple Minds ran the world of synth-wave pop. The track joyfully chimes in with tropical keys, driving rototoms and synth bass all conducted by vocoded serenading.

Beach House shows for certain that even though they have a signature sound of lush keys, soft analogue rhythms, and silky morose vocals they can still tend to their wide-eyed and curious anima. This is a musical duo that doesn’t jump into the deep end with new ventures, instead, they dawn sensational yet subtle changes to their sound and soul. Gauzy lullabies and droning keys permeate from every corner of “Once Twice Melody”. Clocking in at 84 minutes, the album never ceases to deliver impressive splendour, both playful and purposeful.

Cinematically grandeur and yet never verging on the point of over-sentimentality, “Once Twice Melody” is at times both beautifully lush and coy. The duo knows their strengths and plays to them without danger of echoing themselves. ‘Sunset’ balances folk psychedelia with a lavish, picturesque vocal melody. The duo’s eighth studio album conveys constantly sprawling soundscapes and organic beats that magnetize the flux that is Beach House. ‘Masquerade’ sees a more straightforward yet spacious driven and dark pop song, arguably the albums’ most gritty track with its heavily compressed drums and opulent vocal refrains “Here tonight/
then gone forever”.

Time and time again Legrand and Scally prove to hold their seat in the house of gauzy, lullaby-driven dream pop. Careening between gloomy pop and cinematic ballads, “Once Twice Melody” flourishes in its subtlety and warmth. Intimately familiar, yet cautiously exploratory — Beach House have delivered their most grandiose work of art to date.

Order Once Twice Melody by Beach House HERE