Release Date: May 15, 2012
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Beach House records live up to their name: They're cozy retreats where you can curl up in warm, droning, reverb-drenched tunes and watch jellyfish bob in the surf. But on Bloom, the Baltimore duo's fourth album, there's a bitch of a storm blowing in. "What comes after this momentary bliss/The consequence," wonders siren Victoria Legrand on the opener, "Myth." What comes after is wasted parents, shaking walls, specters of death and things that "Make us suffer/Like no other." Bartender, another sea breeze! Yet the melodies, guitarscapes and thrift-shop organ swells make for exquisite comfort.
Baltimore’s Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand are in an enviable position. As the dream pop duo Beach House, they’ve released three excellent records – they’ve never turned in anything mediocre – that have gradually racked up sales in exponential numbers (2006’s Beach House sold 24,000 copies, 2008’s Devotion moved 49,000 units and 2010’s breakthrough Teen Dream racked up 137,000 copies) and the group has moved from Washington, D. C.
Beach House's decision to call this record Bloom is almost too perfect. Over the course of four albums that's exactly what this band has done. Two people from Baltimore started by making incense-smelling, curtains-drawn bedroom pop. Now, eight years later, they make luminous, sky-sized songs that conjure some alternate universe where Cocteau Twins have headlined every stadium on Atlantis.
This is the part where I pretend you all haven’t already heard Bloom, haven’t already formulated an opinion on it, or haven’t flagged “Lazuli” for inclusion on a summer mixtape. It’s entirely possible you don’t know Bloom leaked until now, but judging by my Twitter feed from eight weeks ago, most of you joined the collective meltdown that happened when word of the album’s MediaFire presence surfaced. And that’s fine.
If Beach House’s last record was a teen dream, this is an adult version: Bloom is a matured, ethereal journey. It’s full of Victoria Legrand’s echoing vocals, twinges of The Cure and songs where the mellow haze never thwarts sophisticated hooks. Somehow, it all manages to evoke both David Bowie’s Labyrinth soundtrack and ’80s riffs way prettier than ones actually produced by the decade (but just as familiar).
Beach HouseBloom[Sub Pop; 2012]By Josh Becker; May 17, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGBeach House are living proof of that old adage: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. From the opening moments of “Myth,” with a tinny, think-I-can beat supporting Alex Scally’s distant, stargazing guitar sighs and soft arpeggiating keys, it’s clear that Bloom will not be a huge departure from their previous record. And once Victoria Legrand’s husky, reverbed vocals that arrive on the track like puffy cumulus clouds over a picturesque horizon, we know we’re firmly (and familiarly) in ethereal country.
Evidence for anticipatory ache is mostly anecdotal. There hasn’t been a ton of research into the physiological effects of the “wait for it” moment, except for a few studies involving classical musicians performing their favorite movement. Nonetheless, chances are we’ve all experienced borderline physical pain when we hear the musical equivalent of what author Toni Morrison calls “high silence before orgasm”: quickening double-time before a drop, a beat of silence before the bridge, or the upswing between “don’t stop believin’” and “hold onto that feeling.
There are some bands who get stuck in a rut and keep reproducing the same album over and over again to diminishing returns. There are other bands who are so good at what they do that you wouldn’t really want them to change. Beach House falls in the latter category. Their fourth release, Bloom, is by no means a departure from their first three, and will not disappoint those fans who came on board with their 2010 breakthrough, Teen Dream.
Coming off their much-lauded Teen Dream, indie-pop duo Beach House return from two years of touring with their highly anticipated fourth full-length album, Bloom. It’s another solid output from the Baltimore duo, one that’s distinctively Beach House, and it serves as a further development of the sound listeners have to come to expect over the last six years. Bloom picks up where Teen Dream left off, forgoing the more ambient sounds of the band’s first and second albums for more structured, hook-based songs.
Beach House isn't really an "ain't" kind of band, but the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" piece of folk wisdom runs strongly on Bloom. Despite the album title, the duo picks right up where it left off on 2010's Teen Dream..
Although ultimately a sense of escapism could probably be attributed to the overwhelming majority of music ever recorded, in the twenty-first century the pursuit of a departure from greying realities has become pretty much the focal point of many artists’ creative process. Of course, in 2012 you can drill down further than ever into music’s sub-genres and tangents: variety is everywhere. But a combination of our accelerated listening habits amidst a greater global context of a planet going through turbulence across the spectrum means that, from the commercial charts to the tips of the blogosphere, it’s the pleasant and comfortable that prevail more strongly than ever.
On their last album, ‘Teen Dream’, Beach House managed the transition to indie-darling status with uncommon grace. Abandoning the music-box murk of their first two records, the Baltimore dream-poppers used a lick of gloss to confirm what fans already knew: that, like Dickens’ Miss Havisham as played by Gillian Anderson, they were total foxes under that fusty bridal veil.This revelation set the stage for a glittering return, and in many ways ‘Bloom’ doesn’t disappoint. Alex Scully’s guitar flickers like sad confetti on opener ‘Myth’, which retains the hi-def sparkle of the last record without especially adding anything new.
Review Summary: The most consistent band, in the worst wayIs it okay to sound exactly like another band? Flying Lotus, in a tweet that was widely (but maybe inaccurately?) interpreted as a diss, wondered this after listening to Beach House’s newest, Bloom, and I have asked myself the same question with each spin of my own. I mean, even if you disagree for some odd reason that Bloom sounds exactly like records by Cocteau Twins or countless other dream-pop acts, it’s at least pretty impossible to deny that Bloom represents some of the least amount of progression from one record to another of our major indie acts. And I guess this is okay, because Bloom is still a good record, one I’ve listened to pretty consistently since its leak.
It’s been argued — perhaps wishfully — that the philosophical obsession with language as a fundamental category will soon be swept away, cyclically, by a return to the issue of time. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Apropos of time, the central concept of Miranda July’s 2011 film The Future (apart from a cat who narrates from an ambiguous point somewhere beyond the grave) was the idea that the moment before a personal catastrophe could literally be suspended in time.
With each passing month, it seems increasingly obvious that the album format is an outdated and incredibly ineffective delivery method for new music. This is due in large part to the viral speed and ease with which material disseminates across the Internet: The risk of a leaked track being labeled a dud by the echo chamber of blog-driven music journalism can doom an album’s reception before it even has cover art. The tone of the official Sub Pop press release accompanying Beach House’s fourth full-length album, Bloom, is cognizant of this phenomenon, almost pleading with its readers against piecemeal consumption by submitting that the album’s conceptual value is tied to listening to it as a whole.
Sometimes the here and now can be just too much. In our straitened times you can really understand the 21st recurrence of dream-pop – the American term for melodic, effects-laden guitar music that refuses to make eye contact. We used to call it shoe-gaze in the early 90s, and it was noisier. Now – depending on what it's made on – it's referred to as chillwave or hypnagogic pop.
The fourth album from Baltimore's Beach House is so much a world unto itself that getting inside it takes some effort. Every song is like an Arctic landscape: Victoria Legrand's husky voice skates across glacial keyboards and Alex Scully's shimmering guitar, layers of sound compacted together so tightly that no note feels inessential. It's a surprise when each track ends, because it could go on for ever, and if that suggests the music is a bit droning, well, it is.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with Beach House's newest dream pop album. Unfortunately, nothing stands out as particularly right about it either. To be clear: it sounds lovely and lush and does most of the things Beach House are great at. Maybe expectations were too high, but that's hard to avoid when a band shows so much early promise.
Beach House was not unknown before Teen Dream was released, but it was that album that put them on the map as a constantly improving, effortlessly impressive dream pop duo. But Bloom, not unlike their previous albums, sees its biggest strengths in the production and in how the album sounds rather than how good the songs are. With little change in style or structure from their past three LPs, an ordinary song blooms into a sonic experience purely through studio manipulation, and that is the only kind of growth that the title implies.
In two quick beats of atypical percussion at the very beginning of Bloom, Beach House set an uneasy tone. It's a fleeting moment on "Myth" that gives way to twinkling keys, measured drums and quiet orchestration, but it's nevertheless telling. Yes, "Myth" would have been at home on previous LP Teen Dream, yet as singer Victoria Legrand coos, "It's never as it seems," portending a progression.
The relationship a band has with their music is bound to differ from the fan’s perception of what they’re given. Take Alex Scally of the Baltimore pair’s recent interview with DIY as an example. To quote; “I don’t understand why people like us”, “All of our big fans have now heard the record in a bad form” when talking of the leaking of ‘Bloom’ and of the album’s title; “it’s not definitive, it’s a reflection.” Most Beach House fans will have accounts on a download forum, means of getting a record weeks before its actual release.
BEACH HOUSE “Bloom” (Sub Pop) Beach House plays as if its music had all the time in the world. From its 2006 debut album to its new one, “Bloom,” Beach House, the duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, has fixated on one kind of song: stately, undulating, verse-chorus-verse pop that circles through three or four chords as if they could continue unto infinity. The music dissolves girl groups, minimalist patterns, rock anthems, drones and lullabies into a thoughtful stasis.
The dream-pop duo tugs in all the right directions on their best LP to date. Hari Ashurst 2012 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.
The impending release of Beach House’s Bloom LP has all the trappings of a hype-saturated media frenzy. An upstart duo from the not-so-halcyon environs of Baltimore records two albums of tentative dream pop that immediately wins over critics but fails to draw much of a mainstream audience. In 2010, the band’s vision and creative zeal is finally realized in the form of Teenage Dream, a lush and sprawling affair that propels guitarist Alex Scally and singer Victoria Legrand into indie rock’s upper echelon.
Set against the depressingly transient nature of record company support for new music, if any band gets to album number four they must be doing something right. And, as in the case of Baltimore's Beach House, if that band has slowly and steadily built a fanbase with each of their previous three records, they have achieved something very special. But, forget the 'difficult second album syndrome', it is a fourth album that can be a real bastard to nail down.
Baltimore duo Beach House are the very definition of subtle: Victoria Legrand’s ethereal, breathy wail floats above organ-and-keyboard-embroidered indie pop which burns slowly, not brightly. Their fourth album, Bloom, doesn’t possess as many memorable hooks (or as many well-defined song structures) as their last album, 2010’s Teen Dream. As a result, the record tends to fade into the background and become something so indistinct that it’s forgettable, even after multiple listens.
Sub Pop's freshman class of new millennial pop, led by Beachwood Sparks and the Shins' Oh, Inverted World, rebooted Seattle's grunge imprint as a post-9/11 salve. The former L.A. quartet's Sweetheart of the Rodeo ride peaked on its second of two initial albums, 2001's Once We Were Trees, but on Tarnished Gold, the Beachwood Sparks' reunion drowns in a bog of bad production and lesser material.