By Luis Castilla
Few artists have the honor of being genre-defining. No band has become synonymous with a single genre as much as Beach has with dream pop.
Known for its ethereal, dream-like melodies and vocals, Beach House revived the dream pop genre and are considered the progenitors of its new incarnation.
The Baltimore band’s eighth album, “Once Twice Melody,” is being released into four chapters. Beach House released “Chapter 1” in early November and will release the following chapters monthly.
“Chapter 1” was released with four tracks, each hinting at the dynamics of the rest of the album.
Because the band never strays too far from its core elements, “Once Twice Melody” is sonically similar to some of the band’s previous albums, most notably, “Teen Dream” and “Bloom,” not that this is a bad thing. Both albums are Beach House’s most successful and accessible releases along with “Depression Cherry” which introduced many people to the band through its breakout track, “Space Song.”
“Chapter 1” is bright in its production.
The instrumentation on the title-track, “Once Twice Melody,” is sunny and optimistic, which when paired with Victoria Legrand’s evocative vocals, creates a satisfying wave of sound that washes over the listener.
Beach House is often described by its fans as a band whose music makes listeners depressed. “Chapter 1” continues the trend with its emotive lyrics. “Pink Funeral” comes off as the most haunting with its otherworldly chorus and thought-provoking lyrics. Beach House has a way of combining Legrand’s rich voice with equally rich instrumentation, creating an incredible song soup.
This track also showcases a masterful use of chimes.
“Superstar” is more of a shoegaze track than a dream pop one. Dream pop is rooted in shoegaze, which is known for its guitarists constantly looking down at their pedalboards, hence the name. Shoegaze is known for its use of distortion and hazy vocals. Dream pop carries over many elements of the genre while focusing on the dream-like qualities.
“Superstar” calls back to iconic shoegaze bands like Cocteau Twins and Slowdive. Its droning background synthesizers add to the atmosphere of the song. “Superstar” is the least colorful of the four tracks on “Chapter 1.” The instrumentation is dull and the track never goes anywhere too exciting as it ebbs away into nothingness. “Superstar” is a bland, uninspired shoegaze track.
“Chapter 1” ends on a high note with “Through Me.”
“Through Me” closes the first chapter with a touch of grace. The melodies on this track are like a ballet of sound. Synthesizers weave in and out of this track in a delicate dance that leaves the listener excited for what the rest of “Once Twice Melody” will bring.
“Once Twice Melody” will mark the first album the band has produced entirely on its own.
“Chapter 2” will release on Dec. 8, “Chapter 3” will release on Jan. 19 and “Chapter 4” will release on Feb. 18, completing “Once Twice Melody.”