In the 12 years since the magnificent teenage dream brought their hazy, heavy dreampop to wider fame, beach house have refined and tweaked their formula over four albums, reaffirming rather than reinventing. Their first self-produced record (with technical assistance from Alan Moulder and Dave Fridmann), and the first to benefit from the wild richness of a live string section, once twice melody was serialized. It goes through different moods through its four chapters, with overtones of dark, dark folk-rock and a more electronic psychedelia reminiscent of Broadcast.
The title track opens with a distant feel, Victoria Legrand keeping a close and mysterious harmony with herself. Runaway brings the duo back to their most alluring in Chapter 2, with pulsing rhythms and smashing harpsichord-like keys. Masquerade reaches an overtly gothic-rock climax in Chapter 3 before the final songs slowly fade into warm golden hour nostalgia, finally ending with the majestic cosmic darkness of Modern Love Stories. This reflects the structure and variety of once twice melody that it never drags on 18 titles, its progressive release paradoxically validating the format of the album as one to which it is always worth giving up, totally.