Beach House, the Baltimore dream pop duo consisting of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, have been making dreamy indie rock since 2006. Right out of the gate these two have settled into a sound that is centered on melancholy keys, echoing guitar lines, and Legrand’s deep and hypnotic vocals. Their sound seems as if Cocteau Twins and Suicide had a child, and added in a touch of 60s French New Wave and existentialism for good measure.
From their 2006 debut to their 2010 breakthrough Teen Dream to 2015’s melancholic Depression Cherry, Beach House have honed in on the essence of their “sound”. With Once Twice Melody, the band’s first album since 2018’s darkly-lit 7, Legrand and Scally go all in on an hour-plus epic that you feel more than hear. Dreamy, psychedelic, emotionally heavy, and beautifully produced, Once Twice Melody is Beach House at their absolute finest.
With 18 songs and nearly 85 minutes of music, Once Twice Melody is the kind of album you unpack. But don’t let the runtime fool you, it moves by seamlessly and pulls you into its melancholy world with no resistance. Album opener “Once Twice Melody” sets the stage; Legrand’s Nico-like vocals float above ethereal keys and a loping drum line as an overcast mood permeates the rich production. “Superstar” carries with it the Beach House heaviness; that emotional heft that feels like contemplation on a dark, fall day. Touches of My Bloody Valentine come thru here, with Beach House bringing some shoegaze sensibilities to the track. Words like Gothic, baroque, and maudlin come to mind with a song like “Pink Funeral”. There’s an almost a fairy tale quality to it.
“Another Go Around” sits on a whole other level. So perfectly put together, so well composed in melancholy and 80s-tinged keys. Perfect in every way. Or album closer “Modern Love Stories” that’s reminiscent The Motels, Siouxie Sioux, and This Mortal Coil, but with a touch of 70s singer/songwriter fare at the end.
Once Twice Melody sits in that rarefied air that albums like Disintegration, Heaven Or Las Vegas, and Loveless are in. A record you experience more than just listen to. If you weren’t a fan of Beach House’s melancholy sound world before, that probably won’t change with Once Twice Melody. But if you were, then this will probably be your album of the year.