Bloom by Beach House
From the Seattle record label that brought you Nirvana, The Postal Service and The Shins comes the latest album from Baltimore-based Beach House. Bloom is the dream-pop duo’s fourth album, released this month by Sub Pop to widespread acclaim and a diehard fan base—which includes yours truly.
Maryland guitarist Alex Scally partners once again with French-born singer Victoria LeGrand to produce another whimsical soundtrack of ethereal vocals spun to their trademark miscellany of organ, programmed drums and slide guitar.
Indeed, ‘bloom’ is an apt descriptor of this robust work that showcases the best of the band’s unique sonic dogma. Recorded in Texas and co-produced by Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Blonde Redhead), Bloom is the culmination of a career and the maturation of a sound that has been unfolding for six years.
The album’s first song, “Myth,” was pre-released in March and for good reason. It is not necessarily the most winning track (although it is among the top five), but it is an excellent opener and an accurate indicator of the rest: it re-asserts Scally’s nimble craft, italicizes Victoria’s cavernous depths, and introduces a strident sound of cosmic proportions that befits the promising title and is somewhat of a departure from previous Beach House works.
The songs that follow thereafter are likewise experimental, but perhaps not quite as successful as the prelude.
“Wild” ushers in a faster pace that adds an unprecedented urgency to their hallmark sound and which the duo flirts with again in “New Year.” Unfortunately, while the former has a few noteworthy moments and the latter gets off to a propitious start, they both ultimately plateau into a rather anti-climactic lull.
Other titles like “Lazuli,” which was also released in advance in April, are exponentially better on second listen. Its larger-than-life bursts and reports, which dominate the song, are indicators of the general predominance of sound (and vocal) production over lyrical content in the album at large.
From here, Bloom gains momentum. “Other People” is a production masterpiece. The initial glass-shards intro is drowned out by an epic ensemble of cymbals, and the chorus segue “around-ow-ow-ow” is crowned by Scally’s accompanying drumbeats. This stylistic pairing is vocalized in the song’s defiant declaration, “No one can reach us,” which becomes an anthem that reverberates throughout the rest of the album.
The latter half of Bloom in particular highlights the perfected synchronization of Scally’s musicianship and LeGrand’s luscious vocals.
“The Hours” is a lyrical surprise whose quixotic compositions (such as “violence in the flowers”) and soaring chorus (“frightened eyes”) sound as though they are about to take flight. Similarly, sequitur “Troublemaker” sets the lyric, “Your heart is racing” to an escalating organ arpeggio, which glides impeccably into the chorus.
As though to contrast this accordant synchronization, these two songs inject electric segments and hyperbolic juxtapositions that add edge to their unfaltering harmony. Listen out for the almost undetectable whisper at the beginning of “The Hours,” which is quickly silenced by what sounds like a choir of angels sighing before fragmenting into an electric strum.
And yet, the star act is without doubt the mystical “Wishes.” Its progressive and calculated intensification is staggering: a raw drum, an electronic beat, spectral vocals that crescendo with the line “wishes on a wheel,” an organ that builds to the line “Is it even real?” (at which point Scally joins vocally), a second drum that underscores the line “How’s it supposed to feel?,” an electric guitar that carries us into an instrumental break, LeGrand quivering with the beat and finally a pregnant pause before the final flight: “One in your life/It happens once and rarely twice,” and the song reaches its acme.
Although it’s hard to top such heights, another gem awaits in the shocking form of the humble, down-to-earth “On The Sea.” The simple ditty is far crisper than anything we’ve heard from Beach House and rings like the soundtrack to a gondola ride (think, the band Beirut). The lyric, “only a moment left,” confirms the track’s nostalgic bent, and the final line, “Swallows me in,” is endless, lingering until the song dissolves into the sound of crashing waves.
Lastly, “Irene” picks up where “On The Sea” leaves off, turning the crash of waves into an electric static whence a tapping rhythm emerges. Though largely instrumental and repetitive (not to mention infinitesimally long), the closer seems poignant and deliberate: The line “It’s a strange paradise/You’ll be waiting” sounds like a threat and, we hope, a promise. Hidden track alert at the thirteenth minute mark: “Wherever You Go” is mellow and subdued, and returns to Beach House’s trademark metronomic beat to offer a brief respite from the deafening silence of the seventeen-minute track—it eventually fades into the same.
Bloom is a beautiful dream and production tour de force. The zenith of Beach House’s career, it represents both a continuation of their distinctive sound and a distillation of the immaculate harmony between Scally’s musicianship and LeGrand’s vocals – an august and ambitious project that manages to surpass its record-setting antecedent, Teen Dream. The lyrics are admittedly underwhelming at times, but there are many one- and two-liners that are poetic and memorable, and all words become immediately wistful and seductive on the lips of LeGrand.
Danielle Panabaker's Top Pop Picks
"I'm really into the Avett Brothers as of late."
"My girlfriends are I - we are very nerdy. We started a book club and the first book we read was Gone Girl."
"I thought it was a great film and I thought Jennifer Lawrence was incredible, you know those angry tears, I've certainly experienced that."
Most Popular Videos
- Jane Lynch And Craig Robinson Video Interview On 'Escape From Planet Earth'
- Adrien Brody Video Interview On Judging The Bombay Sapphire Imagination Film Series, Playing Houdini
- George Lopez Video Interview On 'Escape From Planet Earth'
- Thandie Newton Video Interview On 'Rogue,' Learning To Shoot A Gun
- Kevin Smith Video Interview On His New Book, 'Tough Sh*t,' Mitt Romeny, Bruce Willis
Top Comedy Videos
Sex & Sci-Fi: Summer's Hottest Movies & Men - Your Tango
- Celebrity Sex Talk: 6 Craziest Things Heard This Week - Your Tango
- ‘Spring Breakers’ Review: The 10 Most Depraved, Parent-Shocking Moments - MovieFone
- 10 Hot Hollywood Husbands Changing The World - Your Tango
- Taylor Swift Cozying Up With Harry Styles - PlanetFashionTV