As Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally inch closer to Beach House’s twentieth year as a band, it gets harder and harder to expect as much from them. Not because of any foreseeable diminishing quality, but because of the sheer audacity of the run they’ve already had. Beach House’s first two albums, their self-titled and Devotion, are stellar bits of bedroom-dream pop – and the band’s worst albums, even if they’d be career highlights for any other band. Their other five releases are immaculate, with Bloom easily making a case for the best album of 2012. So one would think that that would be the year of their double album, when the band was at its most prolific and successful; or at least, a few years later in 2015 when Beach House released two albums within two months of each other (even if those two worked better separately than together).
Instead, the band has been working on Once Twice Melody for almost four years, finding inspiration in that impending anniversary. Their newest album makes room for its lofty runtime by evoking disparate styles and tones used from throughout their discography while embracing some new sounds. This formula has been employed on nearly every Beach House album, but never more so than on Once Twice Melody. Every previous Beach house song is immediately identifiable as such, and typically consistent with its respective album, but with this much room to sprawl, the concept, and songs, grow more and more diverse.
On “Runaway” Legrand’s vocals and instrumentals somehow make 2010s Dan Deacon sound modern, whereas “The Bells” finds the band mixing in All Things Must Pass slide guitar in an unbelievably successful “country” direction. Even if these tracks come from opposite ends of the album, they would sound just as complimentary if sequenced next to each other. Beach House succeeds on Once Twice Melody as they always do, by pushing their sound as far as it can seemingly go, while still sounding like themselves. The difference is, now, they are taking the biggest risks of their career.