Baltimore based dream-poppers Beach House are back this year with their fourth studio album, ‘Bloom’. The duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have amped up the dream in their pop to create a darker, more ethereal, and all together less ‘pop’ resonance. The band have developed their sound greatly throughout their time, not more so than on their last album Teen Dream, which cemented the band as the dreamiest of newest batch of bands in this style. However, their latest release isn’t the advancement we’ve come to expect.
‘Bloom’ is stylistically an advance, with Yeah Yeah Yeahs producer Chris Coady continuing his work from Teenage Dream by creating a cleaner more ethereal sound. The production is clean, and allows for Beach House’s more atmospheric moments to be truly appreciated. However, it does have to be said that what the album has gained in overall production values, the band have this time round not progressed in terms of songwriting. The songs remain as solid as they ever were, but lyrically and structurally the band remain simplistic. Where Teen Dream saw a quantum leap in their sound, this album is a mindful shuffle forward. This album is a slowing down of creativity, but maybe a move forward in creating ‘their’ sound.
The album opens with ‘Myth’, which has a sound not dissimilar in places to a dreamy Interpol. ‘Wild’ sees the albums poppier peak, which a brooding synth rattling in the background, and fluttering guitar floating around LeGrand’s stifled vocals. The best most vital part of Beach House. Other people sees her voice beautifully puncture through the simple layering and euphoric synth and guitar picking. Her Ghostly crooning is at times haunting, conjuring thoughts of Julee Cruise’s “Floating Into The Night’. That said, some dreamy/ethereal music can sound sinister, Beach House however have a clear heart and joy in their music, A stunted euphoria. The Guitar work throughout the album, is often limited to repetitive structures. Reverb and repetition help create the the perfect accompaniment to the vocals. The Blissful and/or brooding synths are placed in the background, moulding perfectly together vocal and guitar. The album ends in perfect fashion on the sprawling post-rock-esque ‘Irene’, building to climactic crescendo as the album falls to silence.
Overall this album is a fantastic addition to their discography. It’s dazzling in it’s simplistic atmospherics. It’s not anything vastly different from it’s predecessor, more just an act of fine tuning the progressions made on Teen Dream. The production on this album is so clean, that at times the dreamy soundscapes drift more into an ambient background noise, making the album as a whole less compelling a listen than Teen Dream, but this doesn’t take away from the solid songwriting and tightness of the band as a whole. They are experimenting less, but it’s still an enchantingly good listen. Beach House have defined their sound with absolute perfection here, and it will be interesting to see their next step. Adam Grylls