beach housethe dream-pop duo of singer Victoria Legrand and collaborator Alex Scally return after a four-year hiatus to deliver once twice melody. For this outing, the duo have crafted an expansive, literary narrative that tackles issues of fame, love, nostalgia and connection, which are segmented into four chapters.
Legrand and Scally are joined by a live string ensemble supporting the band throughout the album, giving many tracks a symphonic quality. The album features a number of tracks that incorporate quasi-religious elements through the embrace of organ, choir and angelic synths. This creates an ethereal sound that will speak to the soul of the listener.
The album opens with the title track, as angelic sounds and backing synths blend seamlessly with scaled guitar. The song is about a girl who watches the days go by while trying to make sense of the world around her.
It is followed by “Superstar”. Climbing synths build to a memorable crescendo alongside light, pulsing drumbeats in the background, and Legrand laments losing touch with someone due to the rise of fame. We then take a sudden turn with a more solemn and eerie synth organ, alongside stabbing string strikes from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” on “Pink Funeral”. It details the anxiety of performing on stage and examines the stress caused by the need to constantly innovate as an artist.
The dynamic, infectious tempo of “Runaway” is the kind of 8-bit wonderland that many musicians have found themselves drawn to in recent years. Legrand sings the story of a reckless man who desperately flees his problems.
The playful “New Romance” begins with rising and falling strings layered over a sustained, washed-out synth note with snares and top hats. It’s followed by the seven-minute beast “Over and Over,” which, for its very polished production with a synthetic chorus and rolling snare drums, begins to overstay its welcome past the three-minute mark.
“Sunset” features a folky acoustic guitar melody as Legrand soothes listeners with his quiet, comforting vocals. The two synth tones follow the sounds of the crashing waves on “Only You Know”. The trappings resume and Legrand details the emotional highs of a romantic relationship; but she may be playing with the listeners and describing some sort of trip she has been on – hard to tell!
“Another Go Around” weighs heavily on feelings of isolation and the desire for any kind of connection. Light and sustained organ keys are associated with the light licks of an electric guitar. “Masquerade” and “Hurts To Love” draw heavily on the sounds of 80s British synth-pop, further developing themes of nostalgia throughout the album. The synths and acoustic guitar of “The Bells” evoke the essence of the dark styles of Leonard Cohen.
The album ends on a rather solemn note with the soft keyboard and guitar harmony of “Many Nights” and the deeply disturbing “Modern Love Stories”.
once twice melody offers so much to unpack, but there are times when the album drags on as if the band just wanted to give longtime fans something more to make up for the years gone by. Beach House manages to deliver a lot of great material for listeners, but a few fat cuts would help refine and refine the structure of the album better.
Follow editor Tim Hoffman on Twitter.com/hipsterp0tamus.