posted on Jun.02, 2012
Hailing From: Baltimore, Maryland
Release Number: 4th
Genre: Dream Pop
Label: Sub Pop
Beach House has consistently released an album every two years since their self-titled debut back in 2006. 2012 is the year for Bloom. They’ve become known, over the years, for Victoria Legrand’s spooky contralto vocals and Alex Scully’s perfectly paired riffs and catchy melodies. This album is no different in respect to their trademark style. Released in the beginning of the summer, it’s perfectly timed to carry us through the season. Littered with sound clips of the sea and the wind, Bloom feels well fit for the coming months. Bringing their style in a slightly more ominous and developed direction, Beach House leaves the feel of Teen Dream behind as they move forward with their latest endeavor; however, that’s not to say it will be a disappointment.
The album begins with “Myth”, the first single released for the album. Because the track presupposed Bloom, it’s easy to look past it in search of what else the album has in store. “Myth” must be admired individually as a great way to open up the album. It carries a more serious, darker sound than what was previously associated with Beach House. The lyrics discuss a humble struggle to get through life. “Help me to make it” is repeated throughout the song of a few occasions. It invites us to create a myth or dream to place our hope in and to move past the challenges we currently face. With an opener like “Myth”, Beach House proves they mean business with Bloom.
Stylistic changes are inherent with every new album a band creates. Beach House has got their dreamy pop synthy sound down pat, and moves on to insert just enough of some different structures to appease an easily bored listener. “Wild” has an almost 80’s style electronic beat and really encapsulates its title by singing about being wild and free, even if only in the smallest ways we can afford. The song “Other People” incorporates more heavy use of guitar, than typical of Alex Scally to put forward. Stronger percussion is introduced in “Troublemaker” which keeps the tempo moving and conveys a tougher sound. Sound clips of nature, the sound of the waves and the blowing of the wind, are used throughout the album, mostly at the tail end of songs.
Another track that preceded the album is “Lazuli”. With a name that begs the question, “What is Lazuli?”, the answer is not quite found in the lyrics. A Lapis Lazuli is a blue gemstone. With this definition in tow, greater depth is found in the lyrics. The blue color of the night is mentioned, but many other connections to the gemstone are more difficult to find. The vagueness, with which Beach House’s lyrics speak, hints at a deeper meaning to nearly every song. Each track seems to have layers upon layers of interpretation to them.
As Bloom moves toward its end we are met with three very different songs. The first, “Wishes”, brings us back to the lighthearted happy feel we got from “Zebra” on Teen Dream. It has an easy, airy vibe to it that is truly enjoyable. “On the Sea” follows with a different style. It begins slowly and builds to a climactic, yet subdued, finish. The wonderful thing about many of Beach House’s songs is that the song doesn’t quickly end after the vocals do, and “On the Sea” is no exception. This style perfectly illustrates the wise technical choices of the band. This last minute or so, along with interludes within the track, gives the instruments a chance to speak on their own, and that they do.
Finally we end with “Irene”. Daunting at first with it 16:57 length, one quickly finds Irene to be one of those “I thought my playlist was over, but I guess they felt like throwing in a seven minute stretch of silence to later surprise me with more music” songs. The piece begins with a sound clip of wind and then slowly adds in one note after another until a full sound is created. An interlude of one repeated note set to percussion is used to transition from one sound to another. Victoria Legrand keeps repeating in her ever so eerie voice “It’s a strange paradise” until the fade to silence is complete. Although there is more music later on, it may not be worth the time it takes to get to it.
As a whole, Bloom is definitely another successful release for Beach House. Although the more mature and serious sound may be a turn-off for some, most will find it to be another great step forward. It is incredibly difficult to top an album like Teen Dream, but Beach House just may have done it.
-Heather Koenig, Assistant Music Director