Selected ambient works: Dream-pop legends Beach House deliver on ‘Once Twice Melody’

A phone screen displays Once Twice Melody by Beach House.
“Once Twice Melody” was released on February 18, 2022. (Nanako Noda • The Student Life)

In 2004, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally entered the rock-heavy, male-dominated indie space and began releasing music as Beach House. 12 years later, they have outlasted a great number of their indie peers, releasing what is arguably their best work on “Once Twice Melody.”  

“Once Twice Melody” is the duo’s eighth studio album, released in four chapters over the course of four months. Upon first listen, the album won’t shock long-time fans of Beach House — the duo’s sound has remained consistent over the course of their career, and “Once Twice Melody” is no different, relying on dazzling shoegaze and silky, ethereal vocals to draw in listeners.

In typical Beach House fashion, the album’s title track opens with a gorgeous chord progression that instantly puts listeners into a trance. And yet, the album doesn’t stay predictable for long, as the true mastery of Beach House lies in their ability to remain so consistent without ever becoming stale. 

As with their other records, “Once Twice Melody” contains just the right amount of experimentation. This is heard clearly on tracks like “Superstar,” which features climbing synths and cascading, layered vocals. The elegance and grandeur of this track stands among some of the best work Beach House has ever put out. Elsewhere, “Hurts to Love” stands out with a layered organ and glowing reverb. 

More surprises can be found on tracks like the massive outro, “Modern Love Stories,” bringing a certain rare darkness to the album. The track can be split into two, beginning with dense, chilling shoegaze and closing with a gorgeous, acoustic outro that recalls the folksy prowess of indie contemporary Weyes Blood. 

 

No matter which direction the duo turns with each new release, their gleaming dream-pop has kept fans listening for over ten years, with no clear signs of fading. In a way, Beach House has won the test of time: As many of their 2000s indie peers have had to undergo numerous sonic transformations, often unsuccessfully, Scally and Legrand have persisted. In an interview with NME, the duo attests their success to hard work, good decision making and a measure of fortune, surviving an era in which “every band was still just dudes,” a special feat given Legrand’s status as lead vocalist, songwriter and keyboardist. 

All of these elements have added up to decades of consistent creativity, manifesting itself in a certain magic of Beach House’s music — you can see it even in their YouTube comments. 

Under the comment section of their most popular song, “Space Song,” you’ll find tens of thousands of people sharing old memories and remarking on how the song comforts them. By design, Scally and Legrand create music that allows for our day-to-day troubles to wash away from us. Legrand has clarified that she doesn’t view it as escapism

“I think there’s a connotation that you’re not dealing with reality. I think there are times when fantasy is the best way to deal with reality.” And fantasy is truly the perfect word to describe feelings evoked by Beach House. 

With yet another fantastical body of work that’s more than capable of providing solace to its listeners, Beach House has affirmed their status as indie legends. “Once Twice Melody” joins the duo’s seven other studio albums to form a consistently excellent and highly acclaimed catalog, providing a model for other indie artists for how to grow while staying true to their unique sounds. “Once Twice Melody” remains an intoxicating work of dream-pop, but its experimental elements keep long-time fans on their toes. This corresponds nicely with the ethos of Beach House: never shocking or over the top, but, rather, quietly and beautifully consistent. 

Nicholas Black PO ’24 is from Rochester, New York. Though he generally opposes the use of the word ‘ethereal,’ he grants exceptions when describing Beach House.

Facebook Comments