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Beach House – Bloom – review

Two years ago Beach House’s third album Teen Dream was introduced to me by my Bring Tha Noize podcast co-host Ngandu Kasuku.  It went on to be my #2 pick in my top ten that year behind Arcade Fire’s masterpiece, The Suburbs. Their dreamy strings, over delayed guitars and synchronous electronic drumbeat is a sound other bands have been trying to capture over the past 5+ years.  It’s that lo-fi, so-cal surf sound that has brought them to their fourth album, Bloom.

A band like this for me is up to an almost impossible task of topping themselves.  As surprised as I was by Teen Dream, I obviously wanted, and was going to be expecting that much more from Bloom.  Beach House doesn’t disappoint, and they dive even deeper into their sound, and vocalist Victoria Legrand smoothes out her vocals even more to create this expansive dream of an album.  You can feel your self actually drift off during the first two songs of the album, Myth and Wild, and they really do set the tone for everything else to come.

Lazuli continues an amazingly focused and tight album, and is probably my favorite track on here.  The Hours and New Year have that signature Beach House electro/drum punch, and bring the tempo up just a bit during what could be the soundtrack to any John Hughes film. (RIP).  Wishes and On the Sea (another favorite of mine) drop the album back down to a seaside lullaby, as does the closing track, Irene (one of the best closing album tracks I’ve ever heard).  Beach House is keeping it simple here.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.  Just tweak it in some parts.

Is it better than Teen Dream though?  No. I don’t think so, and here is the reason why.  Victoria Legrand has one of the most dynamic female voices I’ve heard in years.  It’s so smooth and dreamy, but also raspy, and almost pleading at times for an audience.  Teen Dream showcased that feeling better than Bloom does, and that’s really the only reason why I think I like it better.  You’re not going to hear something like Norway on this album as far as vocals are concerned.

This is Beach House’s second album with Sub Pop, along with producer Chris Coady.  I cannot even begin to describe how important a producers role is in shaping a bands sound, and sticking with that same producer once you find what works for you.  All you have to do is think George Martin and The Beatles, or Nigel Godrich and Radiohead.  Beach House has found something special in Coady and they’d be smart to stick with him now and in the future.

Now only time will tell if I’ll be listening to songs off Bloom on repeat a year after it’s release, like I did with Zebra, and Norway, off of Teen Dream, but right now the whole album is going to be on repeat in my playlist for some time, and I’m going to be sinking further in to it.  I will say this about Beach House, and this is the most important thing a band can have, you need to listen to them repeatedly, and absorb their work to fully appreciate, and understand it.

Grade:  A-