Baltimore's Beach House's long awaited and much anticpated new album Once Twice Melody, sets off with its opening and title track as if it's on a mission. The mission seems to be to find the missing link between Serge Gainsbourg at his dreamy peak, Suicide's electro pulse, Nancy and Lee's Some Velvet Morning, Broadcast, The Whicker Man and Goldfrapp's marvellous Felt Mountain.
That's a pretty good place to start from and the record shifts on from there, twisting and turning in interesting ways for the course of its run. Like a smooth, high speed train, travelling fast while appearing to travel slowly at one and the same.
I'd like to say immediately that I think it's a very good record. I won't go into how it ranks among their back catalogue, as I'm not familiar with all of that. 'There was never enough time, Michael. There was never enough time,' as Marlon Brando, (speaking from within the skin of Vito Corleone), said to Al Pacino, (listening from within the skin of Michael).
Beach House have been doing this, or things that are rather like this, for quite some time now. I first became aware of them about Veckatimest, the superlative 2009 Grizzly Bear album. I went to see them shortly afterwards play a great set at The Sage, in Gateshead.
Beach House were supporting them that night and though I was aware of and interested in them at the time, I arrived too late to see them. A mistake I cannot amend, though I'd like to. On Once Twice Melody they alternate vocals between the duo's core members Victoria Legrand Alex Scally, and it's quite a disarming process sometimes.
Nancy does the Nancy Sinatra / Broadcast thing while Alex can actually come across sounding rather like Neil Tennant. Not that I've got anything at all against Tennant and The Pet Shop Boys at all. Far from it. But it does come across as a strange, contrasting ride sometimes. But it still works remarkably and incredibly soothing. There are also hints of Flaming Lips occasionally and certainly Kraftwerk which all adds to the mix.
Anyway it's a fascinating and rewarding listen. A record to fall asleep to, and I mean that in the best sense of the term and experience. It will give you sweet dreams. One to listen to and tease out the nuances from over the coming months.