Bloom... Spot the difference
Review: Beach House – Bloom
Published on May 15th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Baltimore duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally present us with few surprises on this, their fourth LP, but theirs is a formula so exquisitely cultivated over this time that you wouldn’t really have wanted them to tear it all up and bring out a filthy glitch-core record. (Not yet, anyway.)
Fortunately, there’s enough substance to Beach House’s dream-pop soundscapes to sustain the gradual progression they’ve demonstrated from album to album.
Legrand’s steady, ethereal voice remains such a reliable melodic device, while Legrand’s chiming guitar couplets and speed-picked lead lines complete the heavenwards trajectory of what in lesser hands could have become perfunctory ’80s synth-pop.
The reverb-drenched production continues to pine with fond nostalgia for the decade that taste forgot – heck, there’s even the odd drum machine on show – and the end-of-the-summer sunset feel it all conjures is easy to get immersed in yet also easy to tire of in the wrong setting.
Bloom is a mood album, then, but it is a fine one with some quietly stunning moments – the vaguely hip-hop shuffle of “New Year” welcomes aboard a fleet of gently whirring synth pads that mesmerise like a significantly less harsh My Bloody Valentine, while the stirring “On the Sea” surrounds an ace twiddly keyboard part with what sounds at first like strings but gradually reveals itself to be more of that swoonsome fast-picked guitar as it becomes clearer in the mix.
Dazzlingly lush closer “Irene” ends with the repeated refrain of “it’s a strange paradise”, but there’s nothing all that strange about the particular paradise summoned by Bloom – the phrase ‘comfort zone’ has been bandied about, and not unreasonably so, but with their subtle majesty Beach House are indulging us at least as much as themselves.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
Bloom is out now on Sub Pop. For more information, including a list of live dates, please visit www.beachhousebaltimore.com