To call Beach House stalwarts in the genre of dream pop would be an understatement. They are, quite simply, the foremost modern voice in the realm of indie music. Their influence on the genre is monumental.
From their debut in 2006 to their most recent release, 2022’s Once Twice Melody, Beach House continue to take listeners away on meditative aural journeys. Best of all, they’re quite prolific so you can always expect a new Beach House album after a few years’ wait.
Once Twice Melody is Beach House’s magnum opus. Spread across 18 tracks, split over four “chapters,” the Baltimore duo’s eighth album is the most resplendent and evocative project they’ve ever released. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally experiment with more layers and sounds that are not categorically defined as “Beach House-esque,” all while still delivering memorable songs.
In Once Twice Melody, all of Beach House’s best qualities are in full display. Each track features an effortless mastery over melody. Victoria Legrand’s iconic contralto voice and Alex Scally’s unmistakable guitar work are present throughout each of the 18 songs that make up Melody. Some tracks are punctuated by beautiful string arrangements (“Pink Funeral”), while others feature glittering acoustic guitars (“Sunset”), further proving that Beach House is unafraid to explore sonically.
Now, there is the question of the album’s length. Melody is Beach House’s longest album by far. The closest they’ve come to this was in 2015 when they released two albums in one year. Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars both featured nine songs, but there was a two-month gap between releases.
Once Twice Melody was also released in a unique way. Instead of releasing the entire 18-track album at once, Beach House released one part (or “chapter”) per month, from November to February. This way, the album was more digestible. It almost seems as if the project is meant to be seen as a collection of four mini-albums or EPs instead of an entire full-length album. As such, it’s natural for listeners to rank each Chapter in terms of favorites. For me, Chapter 3, is the standout. It features the most distinct batch of songs, highlighting Beach House at their most experimental. The shoegazey “Only You Know,” introspective “Another Go Around,” and moody “Masquerade” emphasize Beach House’s ability to weave effortlessly through various musical moods.
If you only have a chance to check out one chapter from Once Twice Melody, I recommend you start with Chapter 3. If you can listen to the entire project, then by all means do so. By the time Chapter 4 arrives in your listening journey, however, you may feel a bit exhausted. While “Modern Love Stories” is a perfect album closer, the rest of Chapter 4 is not as memorable as the previous three Chapters. That’s not to say it’s terrible, it just feels more forgettable than the rest.
Overall, Once Twice Melody is an excellent entry into Beach House’s unblemished catalog of shimmering, profound dream pop. They continue to push their sensibilities while maintaining a steady grasp on what makes their sound so uniquely unmistakable.