Beach House | Bloom
It was Beach House’s third album, 2010’s Teen Dream, that put the Baltimore duo firmly on the alternative musical map. Its detached, slower-paced soundscapes were thrown against sweet, hummable melodies to produce what many called a rather delightful dream-pop record.
What becomes clear fairly soon when pressing play on Bloom, a collection of songs written in hotel rooms, during soundchecks and when enjoying minimal downtime, is that this is an album that attempts to consolidate this upward trajectory rather than pack up their modus operandi and go searching for a new sound. Once again we have here a Beach House album that mashes pop melodies and neverland production. And once again, we have one that does it brilliantly.
‘Myth’ kicks things off on the straight and narrow – a relative term for a group whose best-selling album reached 78 in the UK charts – with a sweeping keyboard motif and woosy, reverb-drenched vocals courtesy of Alex Scally before bursting into life on the two minute mark with a chorus dripping with wide-eyed wonder and joyous naivety.
Previous single ‘Lazuli’ takes the foundations of their previous albums and builds something far more solid than they’ve ever released. With vocals handled this time by Victoria Legrand, it’s a shiny swell of lush production and meticulous hooks. Like much of Bloom, it sounds like most of your favourite records slowed down 800%.
With most songs here running between four and six minutes anyone expecting razor sharp arrangements and instant gratification will be rather peeved. Bloom, much like the process it takes its name from, is in it for the long haul. Melodies bury themselves away in the nooks and crannies of your brain rather than leap to the forefront to be sung from the rafters. The chorus of ‘Other People’, for example, is a genuine beauty; a walk-in-the-rain of song, it drips with melancholia. That it’s no more catchy than the songs verses highlights that Beach House never have, and perhaps never will turn away from what makes them such an interesting proposition.
Of course, with such a precise sound about them the duo do lack one ingredient that can often make records such a thrilling listen: the possibility of surprise. Beach House have their plan A and when it works, boy does it, but their lack of a plan B means that there is no interesting change of instrumentation or pace that would give Bloom a little more variety. Of it’s second half, only ‘Wishes’, an dream-pop nursery rhyme, seems to be plucked from the top drawer, meaning that this is a record that rather fizzles out.
There is plenty to be enjoyed on Bloom, make no mistake about that. It’s an album that is more than likely to keep the group’s momentum going – the two singles released so far have pricked more than a few ears already. You can’t help but feel however that after four records, if this duo are to ever truly bloom, they may have to do some additional watering of their sound.