On 2010’s Teen Dream, Baltimore duo Beach House (guitarist Alex Scally and singer Victoria Legrand) made the sort of unique record that is not only chalk full of simple alluring pop tunes but was also, as a whole, simply timeless – perfect for any time of year, a record to retreat to like few others. So obviously in following up a near-masterpiece, the excitement existed to not only see if the follow-up would reach the heights of Teen Dream, but also what direction it would take the band. Bloom, Beach House’s fourth effort, stays fairly consistent with the duo’s past efforts for really good results, though not quite in the ballpark of Teen Dream.
Bloom opens with lead-off single “Myth”, which opens the album on a spellbinding arpeggiated guitar loop with the surrounding instrumentation and Legrand’s wistful voice building around it with unbelievable results. “Myth” is larger in scale and sound than anything Beach House has done before. However, much of Bloom has this huge mystique but for the most part is much similar tone-wise to their past efforts. “Lazuli” is seemingly Bloom’s version of “Norway”, as it starts on a walking electric piano melody before opening into its ominously sung intro, coming off as a song where evil is constantly looming behind the shimmering exterior.
One of the strengths of Beach House’s music is its incredible ability to plant itself in your head, and this is perfectly captured on “Wild”. The song almost seemingly treats you to two different choruses, with the bridge being played out like a chorus, only to bring to an even greater chorus. Victoria Legrand does this better than almost anyone, leaving you with several melodies from the song supplanted in your brain (the guitar/piano melody, verse melody, bridge melody, chorus melody).
Along with catching on two choruses, Beach House always seemingly leaves the best moments for the end of each song, building anticipation throughout. Though many of these songs are very sparse in nature, every song on Bloom clocks in over four minutes and most are around or over five, but the songs don’t lose your interest because they build towards a climactic close. “The Hours” opens interestingly enough with a vocal exhale that sounds straight from the Beatles harmonizing classic “Because”, but closes by alternating between the two biggest vocal melodies on the song (the bridge and chorus). “Wishes” also saves the best for last, starting on a flickering wave of synth and slowly building up ominously before hitting a pounding guitar solo and once more turning back around for one last extended chorus at its close.
In terms of complaints for Bloom, it’s hard to pinpoint much more than the fact that in many ways it is much more of the same from Beach House and it isn’t quite as infectious as their last two efforts. Also the second half trails off a bit, with the songs like “Troublemaker” and “New Years” just not sticking out much, especially since the entire album stays in its mid-tempo trance.
Much like Nootropics, the recent release from fellow Baltimoreans Lower Dens, Bloom is the type of album that stays in your subconscious long after listening. This is helped by closer “Irene”, which is perhaps the sunniest in outlook on Bloom, finishing nicely before hitting you again seven minutes after the song with one more wistful number to keep you daydreaming. While nothing novel in their catalog, Bloom is more of what people have grown to love about Beach House: pop songs that are both gloomy and glistening, but always enduring.
Can’t Miss: “Myth”, “Lazuli”, “Wishes”, “Wild”
Can’t Hit: “Troublemaker”, “New Years”