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CD of The Week

Week of 2/21/22

    Beach House - Once Twice Melody (Sub Pop)

    What does it mean when a band truly becomes too big to fail? We often interpret it to mean a band’s popularity insulates it from any artistic missteps. But what if it could also mean that a band has refined and expanded their sound to the point that it feels like it could do anything and succeed? If the latter could apply to anyone right now, it would be Beach House. After continuing to ascend and transcend over the past 15 years, the Baltimore dream pop-duo has delivered Once Twice Melody, a sprawling, soaring eighteen-song epic that plays like an instant greatest hits.

    Part of that is due to how the band has chosen to release the album. Beginning in November, the band began releasing the album in small clusters, chronological “chapters” each month that allowed the listeners time and space to savor each song’s lyrics and layers. Another part of it is that Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally are as generous with melody as they are with quantity. The opening title track is an instant all-timer, blending Carpenter vocal lines with the band’s signature drones and drum loops. It’s a stellar reminder of the quintessential Beach House sound before they proceed to stretch it out well past its perceived limits.

    Highlights of said stretching are myriad and include the Italo-adjacent “Superstar,” the Knife-sharpening arpeggios riddling “Runaway”, and the lost Song of Faith and Devotion that is “Masquerade.” Best of all may be “New Romance,” a titanic ode to the fear and fantasy of falling for someone. Glimmering synth sheets envelope a surprisingly anthemic couplet from Legrand: “Last night I’m messing up/Now I feel like dressing up.” Songs like that, and albums like this one, make it very easy to fall for Beach House anew again and again. Each new listen to Once Twice Melody feels like discovering them for the first time, and each new album sounds like they’ve only just started discovering themselves.

    Catch Beach House’s return to Philadelphia at The Met on Saturday, July 23rd.
    Review by Rob Huff

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