Warning: the following review may contain – unapologetically – an abundance of ethereal (see, its started already!) superfluous descriptions.
Many commentators/critics will argue over the merits of Beach House‘s fourth installment of diaphanous imbued visions, Bloom; discussing to the nth degree where it fits in the duo’s chronolgy. Excuse my flippancy for a moment, but this burgeoning, slow-burner, fails to match the empyreal heights of their last album, Teen Dream. It doesn’t help that Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally produced near-perfection on that sublime and blissful opus.
Don’t misunderstand me, Bloom is still one of the best LPs you’re going to hear in 2012, if not beyond, it’s just missing a certain something.
All the customary halcyon shoegazing waves of beutific majesty, alongside Legrands seductive, ‘gargling-with- Gauloise’ vocals, are present and correct. You could even slip the odd song into the Teen Dream set without noticing, such is the harmonic-shared traversing similarties – especially on the leading overture, Myth. There’s certainly a deeper, more indolent and slimmed-down feel, and though “every chord and note has its place”, the album tends to drift aimlessly.
Alluding to the temporary, the album’s evanescent floral title was captured on the road, as Beach House spent the best part of the last 2-years on tour. It’s no wonder then that Legrand describes Bloom as “a journey”; one that unveils “the irreplaceable power of imagination as it relates to the intense experience of living”. Throw mortality into that floating heady mix and the barely-concealed theme of cherished love-pained reflection, and you’ve just about covered it.
In a way, this 10-track suffused pining ouevere of pliable series of postcards from a landscape-potted break-up, completed with passing environmental sound passages and foley. Legrand’s yearning coos and lived-in angelic tones still cause grown-men to weep, but they sail closer then ever towards the soothing wispy burr of Blonde Redhead‘s Kazu Makino, and the wooing permutations of Stevie Nicks – Legrand and Scally take on the form of a shoegazer’s Fleetwood Mac, circa Rumours. She can still glide towards those seraph highs, and evoke a quivering-lip response from the listener; the rolling sea-momentum circus waltz, On The Sea, really stirs the soul, and the sighing rung-out held notes on Wild, would melt even the biblical Pharaohs cruel cold heart.
Chris Coady (Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, !!!, Blonde Redhead and TV On The Radio) once again is on hand to lift the production into the rapturous beatitude stratosphere, taking Scally’s trembling, reverberating synthesis guitar riffs and streams to ever-more dramatic peaks. The expansive Myth opener is Bloom’s version of Zebra or 10 Mile Stereo; a ‘blosseming’ ,aching, moving anthem – perhaps one of the duo’s best – with all the resonant trimmings. Other notable benchmarks include the sumptuous, lilting, dry-ice Lazuli (which takes its theme and title from the semi-precious prized Lapis Lazuli stone, revered for its intense blue radiance); the tender lush pop, Maria Mckee-esque, Wishes (my favourite); and the searing, rippled, “It’s a strange paradise”, repeating, drifting closer, Irene And Wherever You Go.
However Bloom occasionally lapses into effete and touchy-feely metaphor humdrum pop – Other People is a far too cheery number for my liking, sounding as it does like the theme tune from some forgotten 80s US soap. Yet these minor foilbles seem trivial when you breath-in Beach House’s full, “singular, unified vision of the world”; encapsulated in a complex kaleidoscope-layered album that reveals its secrets slowly and effectively.