Album Review

Beach House - Once Twice Melody

For those who persevere there’s still a lot going on beneath the waves.

Beach House have always been about invoking a mood. And when they hit the sweet spot here on eighth full-length, the multi-part, 18-track ‘Once Twice Melody’, say, on ‘Pink Funeral’, they’re truly magical. Glissando harp-like synths and sweeping strings set to a glitchy beat evoke a gothic Danny Elfman score remixed. It’s utterly enchanting and oozing class. They’re also really, really great in small doses, and that’s still the case too. The duo’s latest is a competent, polished set that retains the ethereal, otherworldly dreaminess of their earlier work, yet loses the rawer, vintage qualities that gave them such individual character. While 2009’s landmark ‘Teen Dream’ evoked an old, dusty ‘45 jazz record fronted by Nina Simone set to drum loops, ‘Once Twice Melody’ adopts a shoegazey wooziness that washes over, with a synthwave influence injecting an ‘80s electro feel. Victoria Legrand’s vocal style has moved on, from its deep and husky soul inflections to a whispered, hushed, higher pitch. They’ve mastered their craft totally, but the result is inherently less distinctive. ‘Runaway’ sees them at their most direct and poppy, while ‘Masquerade’ is a genuine final-third highlight. But typical of Beach House, each track generally tends to blend into the next, trundling along with little variation in pace or dynamics. Even when the drums are positively pounding, they are set back too far into the wash. It’s a lengthy 18 tracks (one of which, appropriately titled ‘Over and Over’, exceeds seven minutes) - whether that’s pure bliss or nauseating comes down purely to personal taste. The impatient will find ‘Once Twice Melody’ a tad wishy-washy, but for those who persevere there’s still a lot going on beneath the waves.

Tags: Beach House, Reviews, Album Reviews

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