Beach House Carries A Cinematic Return in 2021

Beach House, a well-known indie duo, returns to their listener’s hearts with the release of Once Twice Melody

Gracelyn Perrine, Opinions Editor

As a music lover, it is a constant search to find music that can make one feel, and feel deeply. Being able to connect with not only lyrics of a song, but also the instrumentals and emotions that come forth from the work of art is vital in most people with a passion and love for music. As humans, we tend to find ways to express ourselves without having to directly speak or state such emotions; this is why music is so important to people like you and me. Beach House, an American musical duo, with a fan base of over 7,000,000 monthly Spotify listeners, does this for many. When Beach House came out with a new EP on December 8th, 2021 called Once Twice Melody, I was first stoked and excited to hear their new releases. However, part of me was also curious if this new EP would elicit the same emotions and moods as their older works. There are 2 discs, each holding 4 songs.

Starting with disc 1, the first song is “Once Twice Melody”, sharing the name of the album. This song starts with instrumentals that extract feelings of wonder and curiosity, then continues by driving a drumline and guitar progression that would hook a listener instantly. Beach House has been known for their shoegaze type of feel, a genre of music that is often subcategorized in indie and alternative music, being known for its ethereal and distorted sounds. Within the first two minutes, I knew that this would be similar to their old music, and it had me on my toes to dig more into the meanings and self-interpretations of these pieces. This song references a girl and the memories associated with her, including summer and her eyes. This song can unquestionably apply to many, as it elicits the pondering of a “what could have been” scenario, offering reflection and wonder.

The second song, called “Superstar”, is hands down in my top 3 of this album. It gives a cathartic feel and uses imagery to make the listener feel as if they are in the song. It references driving fast down roads and falling across the sky with someone. While the song at first gives off the tone that this may be about the past and happy memories, it ends its chorus with the saying “shadow from the sun” and evokes that these memories and moments may be gone and not present anymore. The artists then continue to incorporate the title “Superstar” with the saying “when you were mine”. While this song has a general comparison to the first song in disc 1, the overall tone and feeling that this song provides is that of a different one. The instrumentals provide an apprehension of hope and loss, allowing the listener to relate similar scenarios in their life of losing something to this piece. 

The third song, “Pink Funeral”, took me for a loop. The song starts with eerie high pitched sounds, almost that of a cheesy, stereotypical horror movie scene. The song was set in a minor key, giving rise that this piece may have a different story or feeling to it in comparison to the others. Through the word usage of this song, as a listener, I was able to grasp the possible hopelessness and dread associated with this song, as possibly foreshadowed with the title of the song. The song continually repeats phrases including that fairytales are now hell, hearts are made to break, and that you still can get away. After listening to this song in its entirety, I can confidently say that this song strikes a chord with many who are struggling with battles that most may not be aware of or recognize. As a listener, this song hit close to home and I wish I could hear it for the first time again. 

The last song on disc 1 is called “Through Me”. This song presents hardship, but also the allowance for hope and light as well. The instrumentals throughout the song granted the listener the ability to pay close attention to the lyrics, as the background was quite consistent and driving until the choruses. During the choruses, it is important to note that the instrumentals died down to further allow the listener to take in the elicited feelings that the writers were going through when writing this piece. Like the other songs, it seems as if disc 1, at least, is centered around the past and present situation of a love. A girl is mentioned quite consistently throughout disc 1, allowing the listener to assume that there has been a loss that has deeply affected the way in which the writer carries on with their day to day, and sees the present. Overall, I would say that disc 1 had a consistent theme without making each song sound the same. 

Disc 2 starts off with the song titled “Runaway”. From the get go, this song seems to carry eclectic sounds, while finishing the intro off with a propelling and freeing drumline. In comparison to their other music, this seemed to have the most different feel so far, as it was less melancholy and more upbeat. Already, disc 2 seems to have a rather uplifting theme in comparison to disc 1. The repetition of the word “runaway” throughout the song pushed forward the idea that there is more beyond and there are endless opportunities in the future. If you are looking for a piece of music that inhibits you to run forever with no looking back, this song is the one for you. 

Secondly, is “ESP”. Within the first 20 seconds, minor harmonies are introduced, putting the listener in a somber and dreary prefaced mood. The lyrics and word usage incorporated in this piece relates to the idea of staying. After a close analysis of the lyrics, it is made clear that the writer is talking to someone about sticking around, regardless of the damage already done. This song defines the idea that without the use of our regular 5 senses, there is another one: human’s instinct. Knowing when somebody is in trouble or struggling, regardless of possible vocalization, is a key point in the message of this song. It seems as if the writer is in the same boat as their possible friend, but the situation might be leading astray. Overall, this piece played substantial homage to Beach House’s previous albums. 

“New Romance” is disc 2’s second to last song. “New Romance” executed the cathartic feel that “Superstar” also did in disc 1, but with an opposing regard. A synth is used in this piece to drive the feeling associated throughout the song. The feeling of this song, however, is what is most noteworthy. Emotion, dreams, and feelings that the human mind cannot on its own encapsulate are presented, including past lives, present choices, and future wonder. It can be interpreted that this piece is in regards to a breakup that ended, quoting moments of this turmoil with lines such as “You feel your heart break and you don’t know why. You’re somebody else, somebody new”.

Lastly on disc 2 is “Over and Over”. This is the last song on the EP, and the longest as it is a whopping 7 minutes. While many may not have appreciation for longer pieces such as this one, it is clear that the writers made this final piece its length to elicit the message of this piece with a clear and elongated view. This song can only be categorized as ethereal and idyllic, along with its inflections on certain lines such as “one by one” and “all the little angels”. After reading up on opinions from others in regards to this piece, it is made clear that this song produces a sound of no other. The mind-space that is brought on along with the message of hope within nature was a real-life mover. About a month before disc 1 was released, an interview with Victoria Legrand, a member of Beach house, occurred where she had stated that she had returned to nature for solace during quarantine. This song can only be seen as a reflection of that personal moment in time; however, it does not hesitate to sit with many. 

Without a doubt, this album consisting of 8 songs is a true work of art. Beach House has proven to keep their general genre consistent, while offering different messages throughout their discography. While first listening to this album, it can be inferred that this album is a rather hopeless and dreadful album, but after listening further, there is certainly more. Throughout the 8 songs, the message is conveyed within the journey of being superstars, growing through yourself, growing through others, and searching for answers; however, there is light and love over and over. After listening to each song, it is conveyed that through each song title, there is this story. This album evoked an array of sensation and intensity, which is a quality that is often longed for in music like this. Overall, this EP is a 5 out of 5, and the days will be counted until disc 3 comes out.