There’s no shortage of striking images reflected in the glare of these flickering slow-motion bombs: swans on a starry lake, or headlights racing along a wall, or, from the excellent “Sunset,” “Spider Silk and Sweet Nonsense”, which almost sounds like a metaphor for Legrand’s own lyrical impulses. But in a few places, she falls back on frustrating cliches. Some common phrases look like placeholders for more interesting lines that never found their way to his notebook. Second-hand images betray their borrowed provenance: “Red sunglasses and lollipop/See her in polka dots” sounds like lolita via Lana Del Rey, a worn and worn story. And in “The Bells,” otherwise beautiful and country, Legrand’s verses sound like worn cut-and-paste tropes in his rhyme scheme: “Something someone told me, I think the plane is crashing with you, so let me buy you the next trick It’s hard to shake the feeling that you’ve heard this story before Legrand’s best lyrics, historically, were lively, enigmatic, full of mystery, like folk tales mistranslated from forgotten dialects. Where they were vague, they were provocatively so. But here Legrand sometimes seems to be chasing moonbeams, hoping they will land on the object or sensing that she is trying to name.
Still, Beach House’s lyrics aren’t meant to be parsed on the page; they relate as much to the sound of Legrand’s voice as to the meaning of the words. Like everything else here, it too sounds amazing. Shedding all traces of the raspy contralto that defined the band’s early records, she’s breathless, and the softness of her tone suits the album’s tenuous material: From the Stereolab-like la la la from the opener “Once Twice Melody“, she is the epitome of spider silk and soft nonsense, a presence as ethereal as her songs.
Occasionally, in the middle once twice melodyIn the overflowing cornucopia of feeling, I find myself wishing for something else: something stranger, more erratic, less tightly focused on that insistent vibration of closed eyes. In their overall quest for mood, Beach House sometimes struggles to top the mood board and sacrifices risk on the altar of ambition. Aiming for the moon is a proven strategy. But what about digging in the mud? That’s what Low – a band whose essence is as enduring as that of Beach House – did with their last two albums, and the result was a pair of records that were not only thrilling but also truly surprising. . For Beach House, bumping the rapture up to 11 might be unexpected, but the sounds themselves are, on the whole, familiar.
Yet, like a slow drip of pure serotonin, once twice melody book. It can be tempting to wonder if the album is too long, but the longer I spent on it, the harder it was to decide which tracks I could cut. They all – the ballads, the anthems, the lullabies, the synth-pop throwbacks – serve to flesh out the enormity of Beach House’s haunting universe. The sprawl, the glut, that’s the point. You need a lot of space to invoke a mood as broad as this. It’s a long way from the summer sun to the dark embrace of the universe, and on once twice melodyBeach House are determined to cover the entire distance.
To buy: Gross Trade