REVIEW: Beach House – BloomPosted: May 21, 2012
There’s nothing wrong with bands working inside of their comfort zone. Some artists’ best work comes from refining an already well-established musical style, while not shifting far from what has already been proven to work. Other artists can move in radically different directions in order to create their “masterpieces”, but both methods have been established to work in one way or another.
It just so happens that Beach House fall firmly into the former party. The Baltimore dream-pop duo are back with their much sought-after fourth album, Bloom. Even the title alone gives you an indication of what you’re about to be exposed to – this is the sound of a band in their stride. Their 2010 album, Teen Dream, cemented them as ‘kind of a big deal’ throughout the indiesphere, and this record builds onto that momentum to create their most accomplished work to date.
Comprising of vocalist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Chris Scally, the band use complex guitar and synth arrangements, combined with Legrand’s deep, distinctive vocals to create some of the most hypnotic, alluring melodies that I can recall of recent memory.
Lead single, ‘Myth’, is the ideal introduction to the band’s sound, with swooping synths and free-falling arpeggios tumbling from guitars, creating the perfect backdrop for Legrand’s distinctive, poignant vocals. Graceful violins help underline the latter half of the song, with careful plucking of guitars strings tying together a warming solo. Everything about the song feels delicate yet deliberate, and they spice it all up with an unexpected up-tempo flow mid-way through.
Throughout the album, Legrand sings about themes that are not unfamiliar to the band; shattered romances, lost nostalgia, insecurities and fears are all themes that were apparent on the last record, but it feels like they’ve shed a new light on the matter. It’s all told with quite a linear tone that suits the band’s music well. Nothing is too cryptic or overblown on the album, and it fits in superbly with the flow of the album. The way Legrand projects these thoughts and ideas is what really sets Beach House apart.
The album continues forth with the same kind of style laid down by ‘Myth‘. ‘Wild‘ has a guitar riff reminiscent of countless classic alt-rock bands of the 80’s, in which this genre draws so much inspiration from. High pitched guitars reinforce Legrand’s tones, while lulling the listener into a deep sense of calm. The songs tend to alternate between more guitar-driven pieces and synth-filled tracks, with scattered drum samples which set forth a mesmerising rhythm to it all.
The album doesn’t veer too far away from this formula, but most of the tracks have a defining quality that set them apart; ‘New Year‘ has an oriental-influenced twinge to the central hook, while ‘Wishes‘ has a nostalgic, longing atmosphere to it. The interplay between the two individuals is really something to behold, and together, they creates such a surreal and mystical world; you can’t help but drift into it and want to live there for years. Beach House are a band that could soundtrack a dream if it were possible, and it would feel completely natural.
Chances are, if you found yourself ensnared by the noises the band made on Teen Dream two years ago, you’re going to adore Bloom. It’s the sound of a band who have grasped fully what it is they want to accomplish, and is absolutely one of the most gorgeously soothing records of the year.