Beach House’s Hypnotic “Once Twice Melody” Captures Love and Longing

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Rating: 4.5/5.0

Since 2006, duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, better known as Beach House, have remained a mainstay of the indie scene for effortlessly cool synths and mysteriously monotonous vocals. In past projects, the duo have delicately captured feelings of love and loss, and the band’s latest record once twice melody rediscover the flow of feeling both prickly and beautiful feelings. It is one of their finest works to date, the album enchanting the listener through a story of love and romance, while encapsulating the naïve optimism and inconsolable longing that comes with it.

Dizzyingly haunting, the duo hones their classic carefree sound across all 18 must-have tracks. The record carries fleeting feelings of blood, nostalgia and adoration that juxtapose its disturbing, disorienting rhythms and poignant lyricism: it makes for a thoroughly captivating listen.

The self-titled track kicks off the album, beginning with a shimmering harp engulfed in a positive rhythm that later meets Legrand’s low, sedating vocals. To fully experience the gravity of the duo’s music requires careful listening, as the tracks often draw listeners in with muffled vocals. But from the first song once twice melody, the duo shifts its signature motif; Sounding more hypnotic than ever, Legrand alternates between its clean and muffled tone that features a balanced push and pull.

It would be easy to criticize Beach House for its soft delivery. On the duo’s early records, the tracks often begin to blend into each other until they become a mush of the same rhythm and sound; once twice melodyNevertheless, recognizes and completely avoids this problem. Each track offers the slightest change in sound, while neatly building the foundation of the previous song. This makes perfect sense given the unique and thoughtful organization of the album; the duo split up once twice melody into four chapters, where each “chapter” corresponds to a corresponding visual posted on the duo’s YouTube channel.

Tracks such as “ESP” illustrate the duo’s growth from past works. In reverse catharsis, the track plays as if running from back to front. On a slower beat, Legrand sings, “You caught me watching / Tears were streaming from your eyes / What cuts make you bolder / Could you read my mind? The song is about two minutes long, long enough to mimic a boring lullaby against acoustic guitar and circular synths. Coming to a close, “ESP” is destructive: it reminds the listener of their own presence against the world while simultaneously engulfing them in a moment of comforting confusion.

Often Legrand’s conviction as he sings about grief and longing sounds like an older sister giving prophetic advice. The duo have a way of writing about love in a way that reconciles it with the past while remaining grounded in the present. Impeccably bittersweet, “New Romance” characterizes this tension particularly well with its heartbreaking lyrics “Night after night, we say our goodbyes/ My love drips in red out of my mind at the edge of the sky”. The track details say goodbye to a forever loved relationship while knowing there is something better. Production-wise, it reflects that pain with a solemn rhythm and snippets of high-pitched synth piercing enough to induce chills. Painfully relatable in the best way, the song reminds listeners of the subtly comforting universality of devastation all too often witnessed.

Beach House also allows for peaceful interludes, sometimes straying from its usual gripping synths. “The Bells” is one of the smoothest tracks on the album, with a slower pace while being dominated by acoustic guitar with a vintage twang. The track is the kind of song you would send to a loved one to tell them it reminds them of – it’s exceptional. Similar in composition is “Sunset”, which has similar bold acoustics and a calm cadence.

However, once twice melody is ultimately scary, and it looks like Scally and Reagan are finally stepping into their own much-deserved spotlight. The album brilliantly evokes Beach House’s attitude of fleeting invincibility, conveying courage to the listener as they weave their way through powerful ballads and lyricism. The 18 tracks on once twice melody mimic that of an epic love story, making it a truly compelling album.

Contact Kaitlin Clapinski at [email protected].

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