fri 19/08/2022

CD: Beach House – Bloom | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Beach House – Bloom

CD: Beach House – Bloom

The new-shoegaze stars struggle to move forward

Beach House's 'Bloom': diffuse and lacking warmth

Traction isn’t a very rock‘n’roll word, but sometimes it’s difficult to understand why one act achieves a hold where another doesn’t. So it is with Beach House. They are great, but so are – say – the similarly positioned and styled, but less-lauded, Papercuts. Who grabs ears isn’t predictable. Conversely, Beach House’s fourth album doesn’t deviate massively from how they’ve already defined themselves: misty, shoegazing-derived pop with melancholy melodies and distracted vocals.

Resignation hangs heavy.

The Baltimore-based duo of Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand (she's the niece of Michel) broke above the surface a couple of years ago with their previous album Teen Dream. Constant touring has helped their profile. That effort is reflected in Bloom, which took almost two months to record and a further couple of weeks to mix. The result though is diffuse and lacks warmth, with few points of focus. There are more instrumental flourishes than Teen Dream, but they’re buried under washes of bleached-out synth. Drums are a muffled pulse and Legrand’s lower-register vocals are set back into the mix. Lyrics and titles are non specific. The success of Teen Dream hasn’t caused Beach House to open up.

All this means that Bloom is a unified listen: it’s an album (despite the extra, uncredited, track which appears about 10 minutes after the album seems to have finished). If any tracks stand apart, it’s the just-about-to-soar “Wishes” and the loping, hymnal “On the Sea”, which deviates from the gentle drift of the rest of the album. There’s no doubt the rarefied Beach House create a hermetic music that’s hugely seductive. But a step further would have been nice too.

Listen to “On the Sea”

'Bloom' has few points of focus. Instrumental flourishes are buried under washes of bleached-out synth


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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