Finally, the entirety of Once Twice Melody has been released. This double album feels generally like a return to form and exits the shoegaze detour from the band’s 2018 album 7. Intimate, nostalgic, ethereal, and quite long, Once Twice Melody starts off strong with the wistful, dream-like qualities that are associated with Beach House. The distant, airy vocals are as gripping as ever and there’s plenty of joy to be found in catchy drum loops, as well as swirling synths that create the dream-like atmosphere.
The 80s inspired synth work seems particularly suited to today's pop environment. “Runaway” from the second chapter (or disc) is both an excellent example of this throwback aesthetic that permeates the album, as well as just being a really fun track. The distant, effected, robotic vocals and retro video game bleeps and bloops in the background are infectious, getting your feet tapping and mind reminiscing.
While Once Twice Melody is consistently solid, its true weakness is the lack of genuine surprises—although an earnest effort has been made to experiment. For one, an acoustic guitar makes an appearance on tracks such as “Sunset”: an instrument not typically associated with Beach House. Different instruments are added and subtracted throughout, yet somehow, the entire thing still exudes sameness. Almost every track has more or less the same monotone vocal performance: even the effected singing on “Runaway” doesn’t feel like a tremendous departure. Along with the one-note vocals, the extended length, and the too consistent tone, the somewhat expected lyrics about longing for a time past contribute to this stale feeling. When we do obviously step off the beaten path (at least instrumentally), such as with folksy track “The Bells”, it doesn’t feel like a worthwhile tangent.
Once Twice Melody is an extremely comfortable collection of nostalgic songs. What it lacks in true innovation, it makes up with some genuinely enjoyable dream pop that, at its best, reminds one of Beach Houses’ early hits.