Beach House crafts a complex and ethereal soundscape on Once Twice Melody

Beach House

Once Twice Melody

Sub Pop · February 18, 2022

Beach House has slowly made their way to becoming shoegaze legends, growing tremendously from their 2006 self-titled debut Beach House. Beach House is made up of Baltimore based duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, and they began recording in Scally’s basement in 2004 after bonding over their niche music taste and love for organ sounds, programmed drums, and steel guitar. Each new project they release delivers a new, fascinatingly complex dreamlike soundscape, drawing the listener into an intimately sculpted universe. Once Twice Melody delivers these same engaging effects, but this time the duo released the album in four separate sequential discs ultimately coming together to complete a nostalgic synth puzzle on its release date. This album shifts from telling a specific story to focusing on the sensation of listening to music in a way that produces a uniquely private and delicate dreamscape in the mind of the listener.   

The album quite literally guides the listener through a universe, beginning “out in the summer sun” and ending “into the darkness” where “the universe collects us.” The opening track “Once Twice Melody” showcases a bigger, stacked synth sound, integrating a string section on top of a layer of fuzzy synths and a washed out reverbed drum loop. This more wide and dazzling sound showcases the duo’s growth from their dark, gooey, and distorted previous record, 7. While still incorporating influence from classic alternative and shoegaze groups like Cocteau Twins and Mazzy Star, they begin to draw in bigger and shinier sounds from a newer wave of Tame Impala and M83 influences. This project bridges this generational gap of influences while still producing a sound that is authentically and uniquely Beach House.   

Scattered reference to the stars and the sky paint a visual for Beach House’s soundscape universe each time the listener closes their eyes, connecting the four discs into one cohesive album. On the more dark and ominous track “Pink Funeral,” “the painted stars they fill our eyes” is echoed by Legrand, as the synth strings build up a feeling of suspense with layered harp sounds contradictorily providing a euphoric and peaceful feeling. And then on the more rock heavy “Only You Know” Legrand wistfully belts “under melting days, all tomorrow’s skies, feel it every time,” balancing breathy and beautiful vocals on top of a symphonic cacophony of heavy distorted drums and electric guitar. This is all further connected on the final track “Modern Love Story” with eerie synths and gravely guitar surrounding the spacey lyricism of “a dark mouth surrounds us, into the stardust.”  

Beach House has invariably succeeded in their all-encompassing pursuit of atmosphere when producing music, submerging the listener into pools of emotion and sometimes soothing lyrical nonsense. Spanning an entire synthetically built universe, Beach House challenges themselves to go the distance in touching upon everything from melting summer suns to dark mouths of stars, and fully succeeds in their diversity and range of sound. Once Twice Melody is a remarkable oozing of ethereal ear serotonin, providing the listener with a strange escape from the cold month of February.   

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