Beach House sticks close to home in new album

Ben Pease, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The dream pop duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have been recording music under the name Beach House since early 2006. Notorious for dreamy, cinematic pop ballads and harmonies, Beach House comes across majestically intimate yet simplistic. 

Everything works in tandem. 

With Scally’s guitar complementing each note as Legrand croons delicately through melodies, the duo sounds more in sync than Justin Timberlake’s 90’s boy band. 

On their new record Once Twice Melody, Legrand and Scally stick with the same script that landed them hits like Depression Cherry’s “Space Song” and Teen Dream’s “Silver Soul”. The recipe of sunny daydreams and lazy melodies has done them well in the past… except the eggs are now spoiled. 

Beach House continues to prove album after album, in terms of dream pop and overall coolness is concerned, they undoubtedly are the king of the hill. The band, in a way, has trapped themselves in their own greatness in what may be considered a pinnacle plateau of sorts. There’s no way for Beach House to climb higher, they’ve shown and proved to critics they are undeniably the liege of dream pop. 

The title track “Once Twice Melody” sounds familiar, it’s like musical recycling from the previous album 7. Gliding arpeggios and a soft drum machine carry the song through verses and chorus. However, with no standout hook or riff, the song drags along insignificantly until the drum machine fades out around the four minute and forty second mark. 

“Runaway” and “New Romance” are both songs that charmingly flaunt the seamless integration of textures and patterns that Beach House manufactures. The harmonies are lush and delicate, but not unique. They have done it before. They are superior when it comes to layering arpeggio on top of arpeggio and chord upon chord. But how much is too much? 

While Beach House has continued to grow and develop their musical sound, they have not strayed from the core of the project built around the jangly guitar, keys and Legrand’s elegant voice. 

The simplicity is displayed throughout previous albums Teen Dream and Thank Your Lucky Stars. It’s this very same simplicity that’s becoming harder to find on the band’s newest albums. 

Once Twice Melody proves they are inching toward a new path. Perhaps it’s solely a loss of creativity, or boredom of the genre they built themselves into. There is less spotlight upon the soaring guitar/piano ballads that have become a standard in the duo’s repertoire. Instead, the ballads are replaced with stacked synth chords, which create a rather hazy environment that distracts from the melody, riffs, and Legrand’s voice. 

It’s the same band, but things have changed. 

Once Twice Melody contains fewer dreamy pop hooks and takes a more put-you-in-a-trance approach. Excess space is immediatly filled with synths, and background rhythms that create chaos and crowds the listener from the melodies that appear underneath all the ruckus. 

It feels cramped. Choruses are hectic and cluttered with layers upon layers of synth chords and textures, leaving the rare pop melodies blurred and out of focus. 

The truth is that Beach House is moving forward. They are overdoing the simplistic touch they have showcased throughout their lengthy career. The approach that once created “Silver Soul”, “Walk In The Park” and “Space Song” is gone. 

As the listener, it’s tough to move on. Thankfully, what’s a better heartbreak album than Depression Cherry