Baltimore's genre-spanning duo Beach House released their eighth studio album, Once Twice Melody, on February 18.
The sprawling 18-track project pushes the influential act into a new, unpredictable direction, while also pioneering a cinematic scope into the Dreampop genre. The duo are in no mood to break out of their Dreampop reverie, but their lushness is more expansive than it has ever been.
The album has been rolled out in stages, with the first of four chapters seeing the light of day on November 10, 2021. The final chapter, consisting of five songs aptly beginning with Finale, was released on Friday.
Beach House's Once Twice Melody: From pastoral bliss to soothing darkness
The album begins with the words “out in the summer sun” and ends with the haunting lyrics, “I reach into the darkness, the universe collects us.”
In doing so, Beach House establishes an infinite scope to fill in songs about the the hazy outlines of memory and the scent of night-blooming flowers. There are lilting mentions of stars, the sky, and light itself.
Their shoegazing, ethereal sound is as intact as their self-titled debut, but their means to achieving it are all inventive.
Each track is filled with Victoria Legrand's eerily imaginistic words, which paint hazy yet grandiose pictures to complement their wall-of-sound treatment of dreampop staples.
There are feathery acoustic guitars, controlled but echoing percussion, and shimmering vocoder sounds, but the soaring totality reach crescnedos that sound like they could fill arenas of cosmic proportions.
After the pastoral eponymous opener, Superstar is a textured tune reminiscint of the Cocteau Twins. New Romance, with its repetition of "ILYSFM," brings a grounded, teenager-in-love echo in contrast to the duo's usual haziness.
Over and Over is a 7-minute power ballad ode to Giorgio Moroder with synths and choirs merging to gleeful completion.
Along with their eternal influence, the album also contains a few surprise references. The instrumental breakdown of the closing track Modern Love Stories harkens to David Bowie's strummy acoustic grandeur in Five Years.
The melifluous Another Go Around is a dead ringer for Elliott Smith's luminous style. The Bells has a chord progression spiritually inspired from Leonard Cohen’s iconic tune, Hallelujah.
These echoes are unconscious but seem far from accidental, as Victoria's lyrics are peppered with half-remembered references to and bits of iconic tunes.
The album is also filled with the nameless yearning that the duo's music often seems to possess. Whether the lyrics spin evocative imagery or tell age-old tales, Victoria's vocals provide them with an arresting quality.
Beach House's Once Twice Melody, through an invariably melodious sequence of songs about love, desire and longing, achieves a sublime cumulative canvas of engaging imagery.
It is also about a life that revolves around listening and imbibing, and about the simple pleasure of dissolving yourself into music.
It is, yet again, a gently yet profoundly novel outing from Beach House. Their winding, gradual and constant shift in sound is a treat worth immersing into.