In their 17 years as Beach House, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have mastered a skill that we like to call “dreamy dexterity”. On their early albums – including the widely acclaimed Devotion, Teen Dream, and Bloom – the duo traversed the plains of intimate shoegaze, dabbled in desert-like psych-pop, reveled in orchestral pop, and waded through aquatic domains. On 2018’s 7, they channeled their energies to new terrain, adopting a “heavier” and darker shoegaze tone. But it was still stunning.
Occasionally, the band would flirt with the sounds of the cosmos. Songs like “Astronaut” and “Beyond Love” hinted at what Legrand and Scally could achieve, but they did not delve very long in these distant dimensions. So when they announced yesterday that their forthcoming double LP, Once Twice Melody, would be released in four chapters until its February 2022 release date, expectations were they would send us back to familiar places. Oh how wrong we were, as Beach House flex their dreamy dexterity muscles and traverse to realms in which they had only bordered but never dove deeply. At least for one chapter they do.
The four songs that comprise Once Twice Melody (Chapter One) is some of the most stunning music Legrand and Scally have written. Each track is an adventure to a place only envisioned in books, films, and our imaginations. What ties the songs together is Legrand and Scally’s songwriting. While they’ve only shared 23% of the double album, Once Twice Melody appears to be a concept album whose thesis concerns humanity’s existence and purpose.
The beautiful, hymnal “Once Twice Melody” is the introduction to Beach House’s newest endeavor. As a gorgeous string arrangement adds a cinematic flair to this spatial, ’70s psych-pop number, Legrand describes the aural and olfactory encounters of the protagonist. Transfixing dreamgaze emerges from “Superstar”, which is Deafheaven-esque in its effect sans the scorching vocals. “When you were mine, we fell across the sky”, Legrand sings through vocoded vocals. She is recalling what she once had before it all ended.
Darkness clouds over the fantasy-like “Pink Funeral”. Strings add a chilling mysteriousness to the tune, complementing Legrand’s ghostly vocal. The songwriting is the Brothers Grimm-esque, as Legrand uses images of “swans on a starry lake” and “tears through a white lace veil” to describe the surrealism of where we’ve landed. Meanwhile, “Through Me” is an engrossing and uplifting piece of dreamgaze. It is the sunshine that follows a raging storm, and the vibrant percussion and synths and Legrand’s angelic voice reflect this new illumination. This is a new day in this wonderful new world Beach House call Once Twice Melody.
“Just like days are ending
Just like we’re pretending
At the window, let the light go
Dreamy dexterity indeed.
Chapter Two will be unveiled on December 8th, and Chapter Three will follow on January 19th. This will lead to the full release of Once Twice Melody on February 18th, 2022 via Sub Pop Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here, at the label’s store, and on Bandcamp.
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