They can’t keep getting away with it! Beach House is back again with Chapter 2 of their four-part release of their upcoming album, “Once Twice Melody,” set to release on Feb. 18, 2022, and they just can not seem to miss.
The duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally released Chapter 1 on Nov. 10, to overwhelmingly positive reception from fans and critics. In tune with the release of Chapter 1, Chapter 2 is also accompanied by a visual album available to watch on YouTube. Combining geometric patterns with psychedelic coloring, it’s the perfect video for both household ambiance and actively tripping out with friends.
The chapter kicks off with robotically auto-tuned vocals by Legrand that create a futuristic, forlorn soundscape. Singing, “Runaway,” she sounds like a lonely transhumanist presently residing in a time in which she does not belong. Fitting, as the album continues to develop its theme of lostness and does so with instrumental experimentation ahead of even their own time.
On this track, Beach House uses vaporwave keyboarding to accentuate the futuristic soundscape, creating the perfect song to blast down dark streets at 88 mph in a DeLorean. Legrand’s echoing vocals in “I wonder where you are” is the perfect lead into her next line, “Will you be back someday?” as the repetition creates a sense of hope for return as she finishes the chorus with another echo at the end of the line “My little runaway.” It’s a song about an old connection, wondering how that person is doing, if they will come back at any time in the future, a pain that is universally relatable.
Next is “ESP,” which has an opening chord heavily redolent of that of The Cranberries’, “Put Me Down.” Through this, they establish a dreamy atmosphere as Legrand sings lyrics about the disconnection between internal feelings and external expression as her voice is accompanied by sliding electric guitar notes and classically stringed instrumentation. In the background are either vocals that sound like synths, or synths that sound like vocals, and this ambiguity is a testament to the artistic intellect of the band. It has an arpeggiated electric guitar riff throughout, bolstered by drums with gated reverberation. The overdriven, glitchy rhythm guitar provides the perfect backdrop to a song about the confusion between “What everybody knows” and what “Not everybody shows.”
Furthermore, there is a continuity of the motif of agonizing cuts. In this song, they have the line, “What cuts you makes you bolder,” which harkens back to a line in “Runaway:” “It cuts you like a razor blade.” Thus, there is an ongoing narrative of the speaker of this album trying to point out the pain that their subject is experiencing but may not be aware of yet. So, there is a recurrent theme of the speaker singing to either a younger version of themselves, a younger friend, or an old lover, and trying to help them understand the suffering that they see their listener experiencing. This is especially apparent in their chorus: “Look around, little one / All this writing on the wall / You know it comes / When you start to fall.”
So far, their most popular song in this chapter is “New Romance,” which opens with synthesizers reminiscent of M83’s ambient album, “Digital Shades Volume 1.” Beach House’s track includes a fuzzy, heavily reverberated guitar, and, when the beat drops, the keyboard riff escalates magically, with glimmering background notes in the second verse that work in tandem with Legrand’s meticulous use of vocal echoes. It includes distorted electric lead guitar notes that sound similar to My Bloody Valentine’s “Only Tomorrow,” which is off of a record that Beach House acclaims as their favorite album of the past 25 years. It ends with synths mimicking the doppler effect, with notes that oscillate between sounding closer and farther away.
The last song of this chapter, “Over and Over,” follows the pattern of the first, ending with the most ethereal song of the EP. It has celestial, choir-like synths throughout, perfectly complementing Legrand’s repeating line, “All the little angels…” The track has more minimalistic instrumentation than the previous songs on the EP, but it’s an ending to the chapter that will more than satiate fans until their next chapter, maybe even “Forever and ever,” as Legrand drones with drawn-out vocals.
And it’s a fitting title to the last song, as listeners will be strongly tempted to replay the project from the beginning. With this song, the band hammers in a theme of Nietzchean levels of eternal recurrence.
Yet again, the chapter showcases the band’s versatile ability to stroll between experimentation, yearning dreamy love ballads, psychedelia, shoegaze, and ethereal sounds. Things may not last forever. But, if we want them to, they can repeat “Over and Over.”