Just when you thought dream-pop duo Beach House couldn’t get any better…they Bloom.
Some bands move forward by reinventing themselves with each record, and that’s cool. Sometimes the best way to grow is to mutate. But sometimes, when you have something good going on, you don’t change it—you just keep making it better. This seems to be Beach House’s approach, and it is definitely working. With each of their four albums, released approximately two years apart, they have continually developed and perfected their atmospheric, European influenced dream-pop sound, each record being their best to date. They started out awesome, and they keep getting awesome-er. This is how you know you have a band with staying power. Beach House continues to surprise us and fill us with wonder, not by drastic transformation, but just by doing what they do—and doing it better each time.
Word to the wise: for best results, listen to Bloom all the way through in one sitting, and in order. While Beach House’s previous record Teen Dream played more like a collection of individual, dreamy singles, the songs on this record are obviously intended to be heard together. Each song is its own gem, but listening to all of them in sequence gives you the full intended experience. The track list is all woven together with a signature sound of arpeggio-laden guitar and piano riffs, lush string patches, and of course, Victoria Legrand’s deliberate, slow, effected alto vocals wafting over the top of it all—creating a sound that is understated, yet highly emotional.
The interesting thing about this record is that I can’t really point out any standout moments, because the entire experience is a standout moment. I can tell you my personal favorites are “Myth,” “New Year” and “Wishes,” for purely subjective reasons I can’t really explain. I can also tell you that the whole album seems to progress on an upward slope, slowly building to the climactic, closing track, “Irene.” I can also tell you to wait through about 6 and a half minutes of silence after “Irene” to catch a hidden track at the end. But that’s about it.
Simply put, Beach House have outdone themselves (again) with Bloom—the same as they have outdone themselves on every succeeding project. How they will top this record yet again remains to be seen, but so far the odds say that they will. (If they do, I guess we’ll have to add some stars to our rating system.) In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this piece of heaven.
ALBUM RATING: Five Stars (out of five)