Beach House is on a short list of bands who have a distinctively beautiful sound of their own. They have been imitated by many bands who ultimately fall short of achieving the cavernous depths of Victoria Legrand’s voice and the simple brevity of Alex Scally’s musicianship. “Bloom” is Beach House’s first release since 2010’s “Teen Dream”, which established their role as dream-pop perfectionists and, while some listeners may see “Bloom” as the next logical step in Beach House’s musical progression, the minute details are what makes this record feel experimentally new and exciting.
In the past, Beach House has been ostracized for sticking to one overall sound but this record greatly expands on their fundamentally wistful and somber music. Not only does the record sound more engaging but the tone seems more uplifting. From the beginning seconds of “Myth,” we’re greeted with a wonky beat that is suddenly overcome with swirling, dreamy guitar and twittering synth, which builds a grand sound. Legrand sings, “You can’t keep hanging on/To all that’s dead and gone” and the rest of the record abides by that sentiment, leaning towards difference rather than imminent familiarity. “New Year” has a strangely quick pace for Beach House but they translate well over the urgent beat and “Troublemaker” resembles a St. Vincent track in the way that the loudness and quietness are at odds with one another.
Despite their utilization of interesting textures, the true Beach House sound shines through. Legrand’s voice seems to be clearer, making her lyrics have more clarity instead of acting as another instrument blending into the music. “Other People” shows her actively leading the music instead of calmly fitting into it. “Out On The Sea” also places Legrand as the driving force, which is lucky because she has an outstanding voice that wavers between a gale-force wind and barely a whisper. Of course the tracks that were released before the album, like “Myth” and “Lazuli” speak to Beach House’s maturity while keeping their originality intact.
Also, their inclusion of a sixteen-minute-long finale fits their style, allowing the first song of the track to be uncharacteristically loud and allotting time to cool down before the actual last song, “Wherever You Go,” which sounds reminiscent of their earlier years as it’s comprised of dizzying synths, a metronomic beat, and Legrand’s voice tauntingly blurred yet clear enough to decipher words of love and sadness. “Irene” is one of a few reasons why “Bloom” should be heard in it’s entirety instead of fragmented across mix-tapes and playlists. The experience of hearing that intermittent silence adds power to both songs on the track. Additionally, the songs blend together, which is new for Beach House. “Myth” blurs into “Wild,” which blurs into “Lazuli” and so on. While this technique is not new, the fact that bits of each song rubs off on the next seems to dictate how this record should be experienced.
“Bloom” is their most interesting work yet, pushing the boundaries on the sound they’ve cultivated for the last six years and exploring even deeper into the lush territory they know so well. Legrand and Scally have openly admitted their interest in keeping Beach House somewhat mysterious, even making an effort not to divulge information about how they recorded their music, but “Bloom” seems so inclusively attractive that the origins of the music may not matter at all.