REVIEW: Beach House – Once Twice Melody

The music of the American duo Beach House is a vessel for dramatic and cinematic feelings; anything but simple, the deeply layered synthesizers and breathy vocals of the band create a soundscape so dreamlike and meditative that listening nearly becomes an out-of-body experience. Often labeled as “dream pop”, a genre combining pop melodies with dense effects and experimentation reminiscent of 90s shoegaze, Beach House’s distinct psychedelic sound has achieved incredible commercial success. The enchanting melancholia of “Space Song” earned the track 300 million streams on Spotify. In 2022, they return to the world of music with a highly anticipated eighth studio album, Once Twice Melody.

The album is divided into four chapters–– or discs–– which are released periodically. The second chapter was released on December 8th, and the upcoming two chapters are set to be released by February. Judging by the half of the album that is already available, containing stellar tracks such as the surreal title track “Once Twice Melody”, the album is set to be one of Beach House’s best–– both conceptually and production-wise. The introduction of each track is reminiscent of a film score set in space; layered strings and experimental glimmering sounds evoke an atmosphere rich in color, existentialism, and a deep longing for the past. The vague and breathy lyrics, when decipherable, suggest deep retrospection and romantic tragedy. The lyrics of “Pink Funeral” on Disc 1 mirror the poetic artistry of the sound itself:


“Once was a fairy tale
Then it all went to hell
Swans on a starry lake
Hearts that were made to break
Tears through a white lace veil”


From the relatability of lost love in “Runaway” to the inevitable end of whirlwind fling in “New Romance”, Beach House balances their experimental sound with accessible themes and messages. Their most powerful messages, however, are found less in the lyrics than in the outros and instrumentals; marked by the slow build of reverberating sparkling melodies and fuzzy echoes, the sound of Beach House only seems fitting for observing the uncompromising mysteries of space and embracing the beauty of the unknown. The theme of love paired with the dark magical ambiance creates a stark contrast; while singing about the fallibility of humanity, the music explores a celestial landscape that transcends human matters.

Whether pondering the paradoxes of existence or lingering on a failed love story, Beach House’s ethereal release Once Twice Melody has a track to accompany your introspection. The excitement has just begun–– fans of the first two discs can eagerly await the second half of the album, offering a slower process of enjoying the art form. The first two discs of the EP are currently available on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms.

Just one day after the planned release of the last disc, Beach House comes to Detroit to perform at the Royal Oak Theatre. Get tickets while you can to enjoy the music in person on February 19th–– or, if Once Twice Melody speaks to you, consider exploring the rest of Beach House’s discography.

REVIEW: Craft Spells w/The Bilinda Butchers and Gosh Pith


Craft Spells (above).  Photo credit: Daniel Dorsa.

The show last Wednesday night at the Blind Pig featured the bands Craft Spells, and had two bands opening for them: The Bilinda Butchers and Gosh Pith.  Initially, the venue was pretty empty.  The first band was one I had not heard of, and apparently it was not too well known around Ann Arbor either.  It turns out the first band, Gosh Pith, is based in Detroit.  I found it interesting looking up their bio later that the two member band had formed by happen-chance somehow in Paris, and while the story was interesting, the music itself was not.  I found it hard to enjoy the electronic beats and intermittent vocals, which probably would have been better if not for the technical problems they experienced trying to find a balance between the different sounds.

The next band to play was The Bilinda Butchers.  They come from San Francisco, and got a lot more enthusiasm from the audience when they stepped up.   Their songs were familiar and the more upbeat dream pop songs were more popular.  Unfortunately, the sound technology was still malfunctioning and though the band attempted to fix the sound problem between songs, they were never able to quite get it.  The Bilinda Butchers feature a delicate, more ethereal vocal lead and though it was audible, it was drowned out by the percussion at times.  It was nice to see that some of the members of the next band, Craft Spells, were standing at the front of the stage swaying along with the music and cheering them on.

Finally Craft Spells came on stage and by this time the main floor was pretty packed.  The band set up immediately and started playing some of their more popular songs like “After the Moment” and “Nausea”.  Their songs are a lot less poppy than The Bilinda Butchers, but they have a fuller sound with more waves of electronic and synth.  It was pretty to listen to and as the final band to play, it was a nice way to enjoy and wind down.  Overall, it was one of the more patchy performances I’ve seen at The Blind Pig, but I found that the sounds of the bands complimented each other nicely.