Best albums of 2022: #3 Beach House “Once twice melody”

Way back in the late spring of 2007, I saw Beach House open for The Clientele at a tiny club called Babylon (which sadly closed during the pandemic). I had thought their self-titled debut, released the year prior a pleasant enough listen, so I was more than happy to go early to catch their set. Unfortunately, though, the duo didn’t make as huge an impression on me as a live band as The Clientele at the time. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally seemed talented enough but it was hard to see longevity in their effortless, languid, and hazy sound. And yet, here they are, fifteen years and seven albums later, this last one an epic, double album that grips hard on the attention and doesn’t let go.

For me, Beach House finally found their footing with their third album, 2010’s “Teen dream” and they haven’t looked back since, honing their dream pop craft, expanding upon a sound, a single note and breath, and blowing minds all along the way. Each of the albums since then have been masterpieces in their own right, even when they released two albums within five months of each other back in 2015, each shone in its own personality and spotlight.

Their eighth album comes five years after their aptly named 2017 album, “7”, the longest wait between albums that their fans have had to endure thus far. And listening to the album, you can sense the time and the percolation that has gone into it. “Once twice melody” has the feeling of a best of compilation, songs that we have had lasting relationships with, despite them all being brand new compositions. It is intense and full and heavy and our protagonists are well aware of what they are serving us, choosing to serve it up in chunks. The four chapters (or four sides) of the eighteen-track album were introduced a piece at a time as EPs, once a month starting in November of last year and culminating in the final collected work receiving its official release in the middle of February of this year.

All told, “Once twice melody” has the power lull one to sleep, invoke memories, and create the emotional responses akin to those felt when falling in love. The tracks are all brilliant when taken separately but as a whole, they are unstoppable. I feel that most would have their own favourite songs and my own change upon my changing of moods, and these three that I’ve picked for you are just those that tickled my fancy on the day that I decided this album would be on my year end list.

“Over and over“: “The night, that has no end (over and over)… will be the last, my friend… over and over…” This seven minute explosion closes chapter two, feeling like a direct response to Depeche Mode’s “Waiting for the night”. It explores a time and place between the late hours of night and early hours of morning, between waking and dreaming, when angels croon and demons scream. It is magical and wondrous personified. It is white and black and pink. Just close your eyes and float to the energy.

“Masquerade”: “She comes dressed like Sunday, string of pearls around her neck, room of mirrors, days of lace, porcelain and picturesque.” The gongs and walls of wash hint at a dark and demonic Cinderella ball. The “Masquerade” here, like many of the other polaroid snaps on this album, feels very surreal, rife with dry ice and fog, images perceived but not truly seen. It feels sinister but not deadly. The dance partners twirl and bow, play their part, smile and nod, and at the end, the emptiness and sadness pervades.

“Hurts to love”: Chapter four is the finale and track three feels like the perfect climax. “Hurts to love” was released as a standalone single on Valentine’s Day and because of this, it feels like a thesis statement, a call to arms, a raison d’être. It is a fireworks of guitars and synths and Victoria Legrand wooing the world and explaining the meaning of life. “If it hurts to love, better do it anyway.” It is a song for repeat listens, from earphones to dancefloors to pounding speakers. It is the sound of pounding hearts and fluttering eyelids, the feeling of passionate lips, and a glimpse of tear filled eyes. It is love and it should not be ignored, nor taken for granted.

We’ll return in just two more days with album #2. In the meantime, here are the previous albums in this list:

10. Blushing “Possessions”
9. Just Mustard “Heart under”
8. Jeanines “Don’t wait for a sign”
7. The Reds, Pinks and Purples “Summer at land’s end”
6. Tallies “Patina”
5. Suede “Autofiction”
4. Wet Leg “Wet Leg”

You can also check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.


Vinyl love: Cults “Cults”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Cults
Album Title: Cults
Year released: 2011
Year reissued: 2022
Details: Limited edition, 10th anniversary, gold foil, signed

The skinny: Here’s a recent record purchase that illustrates the current state of our vinyl collecting woes. Dream pop duo Cults announced the special edition 10th anniversary pressings of their incredible self-titled debut back in June 2021. I remember thinking the price a bit steep and the projected December delivery date a bit far out but I jumped on it anyways. I had fallen in love with this album back in 2011 and its retro sounding wall of sound escapades. It had been on my vinyl collection wish list for a while and I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen a whiff of it at any of my local record shops. I opted for a the gold foil version and of course, I went for the signed option, given that it wouldn’t cost me anything more. I had nearly forgotten about ordering it when last Christmas rolled around but then, I saw an update on their Instagram account explaining how it was wildly delayed. I completely understood and went on with my holidays. Later news was that it would be delivered in February but then that month sailed by without further updates. I checked in with the online shop in April and was told it was pressed but no shipping date had yet been provided. The band finally received them in June, nearly a year after the reissues were initially announced, and I got mine near the end of July. No harm, no foul, because as you can see, it’s lovely. But between you and me, with the rising costs of these things, the delays, and delivery charges, my purchasing has slowed to a crawl this year.

Standout track: “Go outside”


Best tunes of 2012: #3 First Aid Kit “Emmylou”

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If you had asked me in my youth if there was a type of music that I disliked, I would have answered without hesitation: Country.

To be fair, it was the music of my parents* and teenagers rarely pick up on the music of the previous generation, at least not right away. Then, the “new” country hit the fan in the 80s and 90s, spraying the music of Shania Twain and Garth Brooks – really more pop than country – all over the radio. Is it any wonder, then, that I wasn’t a fan of the genre? Still, as more time has gone on, I have found myself being drawn in by more bands flying the alt-country banner, music influenced by the country music of old.

Back in 2012, some of the bands that were putting out my favourite music were all rocking this sound, bands like Cuff the Duke, The Wooden Sky and yes, First Aid Kit. This latter act may have considered themselves more of a folk band but if you listen to the twang and slide guitar of today’s song, “Emmylou”, you certainly couldn’t discount their country influences. Then, of course, there’s the lyric content. The song metaphorically references legendary country duos Johnny Cash and June Carter-Cash and Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris** to bolster the comparison of singing partnerships with entangled lovers.

“Oh the bitter winds are coming in
And I’m already missing the summer
Stockholm’s cold but I’ve been told
I was born to endure this kind of weather”

And, yes, you read and heard that right.

First Aid Kit’s twin driving forces, sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, are both from the northern climes of Sweden. It shouldn’t be that surprising that a band of such quality comes from the Scandinavian country**, but that they sound like this is somewhat unexpected. And it’s their sound that gained them such popularity. They first cracked popular attention with a YouTube video of them performing a cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger mountain peasant song” and perhaps because of this, many writers had First Aid Kit stealing the helm of brilliance from that same band. All you have to do is listen to the angelic vocal harmonies sung by the sisters to understand why the critics raved.

“Emmylou” was the second single off of First Aid Kit’s second album “The lion’s roar”. I remember liking the album enough when I first heard it but was far too preoccupied with so much new music being released to spend enough time with it. Then, later in the year, the album happened to come up randomly on my iPod while doing some spring cleaning and it suddenly clicked with me. I must have listened to “Emmylou” a half-dozen times on repeat. I was so hooked that I had to share it with my wife, Victoria. Once she got over the initial shock at the country sound, she really enjoyed the song as well. It really is a beautiful tune and captures the yearning and pure pleasure of love.

“No, I’m not asking much of you
Just sing, little darling, sing with me”

*The music of long road trips and hence, forced agony.

**Back in 2015, First Aid Kit performed this song with Emmylou Harris in attendance and the legendary songstress was moved to tears.

***There have been plenty of excellent Swedish bands over last couple of decades.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here.