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Fourth studio album by the critically acclaimed dream pop duo. The follow-up to the very positively received 'Teen Dream' (2010), the album debuted at '15 in the UK Albums Chart and includes the song 'Lazuli'.
In one way or another Beach House records have always been about the essence of things. Their self-titled first record was characterised by simplicity: ticking drum machines, keys and electric guitar acted as lone backdrops for deceptively simple pop songs.
Tracks from that record, like Apple Orchard and Tokyo Witch, burned off any possible excesses and let melodies sit just so. On first blush Bloom is striking with its expanse and depth; but even in this more detailed surrounding Beach House are still after the same ideas of economy.
Opener Myth pirouettes on elementary percussion and a sparkling guitar line. A head of steam gathers slowly, becoming more textured and wild by increments. So that when Victoria Legrand finishes up the first chorus, singing "Let you know I'm not the only one," the rug is pulled out and the emptiness is all the more startling.
Even though parts of this song – and others on Bloom – can feel quite free-range, there's a solid construction to the way Beach House unravel such pieces. They tug in just the right directions, which can make for quite a deceptive listen. It's easy to be carried along by Bloom's easy sense of beauty, and much harder to trap exactly what it is that makes the record so charming.
The answer lies in small moments and tectonic rubs: the overlapping vocal at the end of Lazuli; Lagrand sliding The Hours into ecstasy late on; or the weightless guitar interlude in New Year. In truth, there are too many such moments to list, and it's probably more fun to discover them yourself. Those small workings of Bloom might not stick out at first but gently push songs towards blissful resolutions that somehow don't feel manipulative or at all corny.
It might sound strange but after spending time with the record what Bloom most calls to mind is macro photography. An extreme close-up shot often reveals hidden depths and textures of familiar subjects. So too with Beach House on this record; guitar lines are blown up, Legrand's vocals are heady and intense, while melodies reveal like time-lapse videos.
Once you manage to pull away from Bloom's magnified scenery and consider the record as a whole it's difficult to think of it as anything other than its makers’ best work so far.
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Top customer reviews
The revolving riff on "Irene" from 3.30 on follwed by the flurry of cymbal crashes is so transcendentally stunning you'll wish the song goes on for a lot longer then it's 17 minute length (or that they'd filled the silence in between at least). The moaning MY bloody Valentine guitars in "New Year" always get me to, their filled with such nostalgic melancholy. Some immediately hailed Bloom the album of the year upon it's release in April and aside from the fact that there's still a lot more music to be released in 2012, the lack of sonic innovation on Bloom does slightly hinder it from achieving such unquestionable status, as the debt to Mazzy Star and The Cocteau Twins is still rather high. Nevertheless, as i've already emphatically stated the music on here is undeniable beautiful and will be sure to please even the most discerning of listeners with repeated exposure.
In terms of the Baltimore duo's latest offering its safe to say that if you loved "Teen Dream" the romance is about to be rekindled. There is certainly progression on "Bloom" which makes it a cleaner more pure pop form of music but at the same time this album is certainly the first cousin of "TD" and if you had put the lovely opener "Myth" as the eleventh track on that album frankly no one would notice the joins. It is a scintillating pop song full of huge Legrand choruses and Scally instrumentation which concludes with a huge finale of bells, guitars synths, kitchen sinks et al. Next up is "Wild" a song which your reviewer has become so smitten with it is with a sense of regret that the third track comes on. It is a pounding shimmering pop song with a superb vocal and imbued with that latent regret that the sweet raspy voice of Legrand should seek a patent to protect. Equal wonders follow not least the lifting bliss of "Lazuli" (appropriately a stone, revered for its intense blue radiance) where music pundits have noticed the Liz Frazier dimensions of Legrand's huge vocal. There however a couple of minor slip ups within the album. The song "Other people" for instance is a wonderfully gossamer thin pop song all airy graces and appears to be created as a potential single. Repeated listens however suggest that it is neither fish nor fowl and it is not a song on the album where your automatically aim the needle of the record player. Similarly why do bands persist in the high irritation of the hidden concluding album track where you wait an eternity to be deliriously shocked by the presence of more music which you knew was already there in the first place (Beach House have never really majored on 16 minute songs). Its a shame really since the gorgeous mystery track "Wherever you go" which follows the rather harsh "Irene" harks back nicely to the Beach House of the earlier "Devotion" era and didn't need to be tucked away.
These are small quibbles in the grand scheme of things and once you hear the truly wonderful rolling piano ballad "On the sea" the bands genius is laid bare for all to admire and leave you with a quivering lip. Beach house are consumate musicians who have perfected an approach which is distinctively their own and which delivers time after time. "Teen Dream" was an album of such greatness that following it was bound to be a difficult prospect, Equally "Bloom" is an album which is deeply layered and textured and reveals a little more beauty and depth on each listen. Who knows with the passage of time it may well be every bit the equal to its august predecessor? "Time is the revelator" as Gillian Welch once wisely observed and for now just enjoy another wonderful instalment of music from this dynamic duo.
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