Words: Paul Page
Baltimore duo Beach House released one of the albums of 2010 with the sublime Teen Dream – a collection of songs for which the term ‘Dream Pop’ could have been invented. That album won them a legion of new admirers, and the attentions of TV advertisement moguls who saw their take on wistful nostalgia and narcotic dreaminess as a sure-fire winner with consumers.
With the aptly named Bloom, Beach House have truly arrived – this is a band on the cusp of greatness and Bloom is their finest achievement to date. Those anticipating some major departure or change of direction on this their fourth album may be disappointed. The Beach House sound has developed in tiny incremental steps – Bloom is their most confident sounding record, but the blueprint remains the same with Victoria Legrand’s rich, earthy vocals the bands main calling card. Set against a backdrop of ethereal, woozy, organ drenched soundscapes, Beach House make the perfect background music for leafing through old photograph albums on lazy summer days.
If there is one minor difference between this and previous albums, it is the greater prominence given to Alex Scally’s guitar work. Opening track, the wonderful ‘Myth’ is the perfect showcase for Scallys talents –his soaring, tremolo guitar break lifts this song into a different stratosphere. From there, Beach House go on to deliver a near flawless set –‘Wild’ and ‘Lazuli’ bleed into each other like one long, pleasurable sigh, and there is barely a moment wasted as Bloom delivers a blissful soundtrack that is sure to feature as a contender for record of the year come December.
The album finishes strongly with ‘On the Sea’ a particular highlight and the hypnotic closing track ‘Irene’ with its repeated refrain ‘It’s a strange paradise’ drifting on for what seems like an eternity.
There will be those who will lament any real sense of progression on Bloom but when the music is this intoxicating, THIS good, who really cares? Highly recommended.