Bloom is the fourth LP from the indie dream pop duo Beach House, and the first release since their 2010 breakthrough album Teen Dream. Since forming in Baltimore, Maryland in 2004 Beach House has continued to gain following and has gone from opening for big name acts like Vampire Weekend and Animal Collective to becoming one of the most popular indie bands of date and headlining their own sold out shows.
In a Pitchfork interview, Alex Scally stated, “I hate it when bands change between records…that’s not how we work.” The same drum machine beat throughout the song, Scally’s simple yet melodic riffs, Victoria Legrand’s hauntingly beautiful vocals, and the appropriate tone humming in the background has been Beach House’s style since day one and Bloom isn’t looking to change that. This album manages to succeed where many bands fail, in that it keeps the same sound that made people love the band in the first place while somehow managing to sound completely new and interesting.
“Myth” opens Bloom the same way that “Zebra” opened Teen Dream. An inviting oscillating melody starts and the drum machine kicks in to build up Legrand’s vocals. Melodies build on melodies and some slide guitar gets introduced and it all culminates into an enticing trance for the rest of the song. “Wild” introduces a rare hook into the band’s lyrical index when Legrand softly shouts the words “Go on pretending”. The lyrically loaded track “New Year” proves just how deep this album goes with its captivating melodies and phrases like, “All I wanted comes in colors”. Also as a special treat there is a hidden track about six minutes after the last track, “Irene”, ends.
Beach House is a great band to try out for those who are fans of or are looking to get into dream pop, and Bloom is a great place to start. The songs are beautiful and border the line of catchy without being generic. Each track is very listenable and the lyrics and layered melodies will ensure that listeners continue to hear something new even after multiple plays.
Written by A.J. Kellogg, Radio K volunteer
It's safe to say that Beach House's fourth album Bloom has been one of the most anticipated albums of 2012 so far. They've been gaining steam at a steady pace over the course of their previous three LPs, with Teen Dream finding positions on many "Best of 2010" lists. Bloom feels like Teen Dream's dark side. It feels like what Teen Dream turns in to at night when nobody is watching. The two openers, "Myth" and "Wild", are unquestionably the group's most sinister numbers thus far, but they have a sexy side about them too that was hinted at on previous Beach House releases but finally comes to fruition here.
What's made Beach House so consistently satisfying is that they stick to their distinctive formula and revel in it. It's comforting to put on a few tracks of Bloom and be greeted by their signature archaic and crackling drum beats lured from the exact same synth-organ they were using 5 or 6 years ago. An iconic reverb-laden Fender guitar tone and choir of Victoria Legrands is all that is necessary to fill out the material and make it unmistakably Beach House. New on Bloom however is an emphasis on pulsing low frequencies that make this collection of tunes feel heavier than previous releases. It feels less lazy and more urgent. The group do slip in to their more casual mood during a few choice moments, such as the ascending chorus to "The Hours" with its almost sassy attitude. It almost seems like what some call a "hairbrush song", one that girls sing in front of the mirror with their hairbrush. Victoria Legrand sounds as if she's practically mocking you for not singing along, or giving you a knowing smirk if you cave in and join her.
The group's name seemed so appropriate on early releases which sounded like the sun just beginning to rise over a rickety wooden shack surrounded by sand. Waves gently lap up on a discarded Stratocaster and a Roland Rhythm 77 analog rhythm machine to coax sunbleached melodies out of them. On Bloom the sun has set long ago allowing the stars to shine down on the now sand-encrusted gear to seduce these haunting melodies up towards the heavens.
Written by Tom Steffes, Digital Media Producer