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Bloom

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Album Review

"It's a strange paradise," Victoria LeGrand sings at one point on Beach House's fourth album Bloom, and there isn't a more apt description of the beautifully heartbroken mood that she and Alex Scally create here. Reuniting with Teen Dream engineer Chris Coady, the duo designed the album to be listened to as a whole, and fittingly, it often feels more like a suite than a collection of songs. This ambition is admirable, but it also means that it takes a while for individual moments to emerge from the album's beautiful haze. Indeed, Bloom may be Beach House's most sonically gorgeous album yet, with an icy sheen that doesn't warm up much, even when recordings of locusts and seagulls show up between tracks; it's easy to imagine LeGrand exhaling clouds of mist while singing the backing vocals on "Lazuli." While the endearing, sometimes awkward intimacy of Beach House's earlier work — which felt like LeGrand was crooning confessions over creaky, vintage keyboards and drum machines just for you — is missed, Bloom's shimmering remoteness enhances the album's philosophical, searching approach to love and loss. It's a mood and setting perfect for LeGrand's vocals, which have never sounded richer or more world-weary: "What comes after this momentary bliss? Help me to name it," she calls out on the opening track "Myth," a sentiment echoed later by "Wishes," where she wonders, "How's it supposed to feel?" Emotional moments such as these take their time to emerge, but when they do, they're riveting, particularly on "Troublemaker," which recalls Beach House's previous albums in its delicate dance between sad, stark verses and more hopeful choruses, and on the beautifully resigned "Irene," where a whimsical keyboard melody offsets and underscores the feeling of loss at the same time. Since Bloom's suite-like flow downplays Beach House's poppy side (with the notable exceptions "Other People" and "The Hours"), it's not the band's most immediate music, but the album's challenging mix of heartbroken words and aloof sounds rewards patient and repeated listening.

Customer Reviews

Bloom, perfect dream pop

How do you top an album as peerless as Beach House’s last magnum opus Teen Dream? The answer is: you don’t - you pick up where you left off and you continue its legacy, tinkering around the edges only. With their fourth album, Bloom, Baltimore duo Beach House have done precisely that.

I like to eschew musical labels, mostly because they unacceptably pigeonhole expectations of music -- which should always be heard, felt and understood on its merits. But, to me, Bloom reestablishes that Beach House are the epitome of what “Dream Pop” is, and should aspire to be.

The “dream” part is self-evident and ink has been spilt before on it. I could spin Teen Dream on my lunch break at work after a highly charged meeting and just drift off to a happy place, peaking day-dreamily at my desk by the time 10 Mile Stereo played. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Beach House are hypnotists -- they can induce your subconscious to lapse into a fantastical state that exists on a higher plane than even dreams.

The first lyric on Bloom’s opener, Myth, goes: “Drifting in and out, see the road you’re on…” It’s uttered in Victoria Legrand’s reassuringly androgynous contralto over loping keyboard notes and Alex Scally’s minor key looping guitar strings. Acting in concert, the duo are capable of being utterly alluring and appealing. And, from that point, Bloom lulls you into its sunny and spacious world irresistibly, irreversibly.

Something often overlooked is how the music of Beach House features all the elements of the best “Pop” music – hooks, lines and sinkers. Immediately recognisable and universally melodic. All these elements come to the fore in Bloom’s highlight track, Wild. A synthesizer gradually crescendos, atypical drum beats at in ¾ timing repeats, before Scally’s guitar kicks in and the song explodes in a solar flare, as Legrand sings "wild in our way is what we make it…"

There’s something especially universal about a band Tyler the Creator cites as an influence, and famously covered by R&B's buzzed-about The Weeknd, yet still revered as an indie and Pitchfork mainstay. The timeless relatability of Bloom, and Beach House, comes from the fact that their music just feels familiar. For Gen Y it’s like hearing those records (CDs?) your parents used to play while doing the house work on Saturday morning before athletics. It sounds homely and comforting but present.

Like many of their best songs, Lazuli’s soft and simple chords and harmonic build are part homage to Fleetwood Mac, part pioneering dream pop. New Year is another standout track. At 1.23 minutes, there is a chord change up that just uplifts a tired heart, notwithstanding the poignant lyrics.

For bands that have been around a long time, even and particularly doyens in the relative obscurity of the indiesphere, consistency can be a curse. Today’s listener wants gratification and novelty immediately, thank you! I’ve had friends call Beach House boring and, in confession, that was my first impression of their early material. But, to succumb to any hypnosis you have to let go, sit back take it in and let it overwhelm you. Once you’re finally hypnotized by Bloom, there’s no turning back.

They know that all they need to do is keep achieving the matchless levels they set with Teen Dream. You can’t make something already perfect more perfect.

Perfect

This album is completely wonderful, every song is dreamy and gorgeous. I was admittedly unsure if Bloom could possibly be as good as Teen Dream but it definately is, though it does have a different feeling; more whimsical and atmospheric. The melodies are catchy and the lyrics are as wonderful as usual. My favourites are New Year and Other People, but all of the songs are great. A must buy!!

Really, really beautiful

Even better than "Teen Dream", such a brilliant band. Really loving "Bloom"!!!

Biography

Formed: 2005 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Despite its summery name, Beach House creates music that is dark, dreamy, and alluringly hypnotic. Baltimore residents Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand (the niece of French composer Michel Legrand) formed the duo in 2005, with Legrand's hushed, Nico-like vocals and Scally's delicate instrumentation paving the way for their first batch of songs. Within a year, Beach House had charmed indie music enthusiasts across the blogosphere with its languid songcraft, and the eerie warmth of "Apple Orchard"...
Full Bio