Spring is the most beautiful of seasons. Sure, winter can be white and enchanting, but have you seen snow when it gets dirty? Summer is full of sweat and complaining, and fall is full of complaining that summer is gone. But spring brings about the best qualities in all of us (those with allergies excluded): it’s easy-going, with the promise of something better, all the while contemplating the growth that we experienced while cooped up waiting for the thaw. Beach House has been in hibernation since 2010’s masterpiece, Teen Dream, waiting for their own personal day in the cool sun of May. With Bloom, the group’s fourth and best release, the band has found out that sometimes you have to go through the harshest of times to unleash the beauty of a flower’s innate beauty.
Colors are a big part of how one must listen to Beach House: Bloom‘s contrasting black and white cover masks a tendency to unleash brightness upon its listener. As their live show suggests, the band loves light more than the darkness that exists within the crevices, filling both stage and record with bright greens, and blues, and pinks as well. The gorgeous “On The Sea” may as well be a song bathed in a teal-green wave, sending you off to the next island over with news of your enlightenment. And it is enlightenment, to be sure. After all, with such a simply beautiful line like “It’s not what you stole, but what they gave you,” how can you not feel like a new, smarter version of yourself?
Beach House’s Wild
The best song on the record comes early on, as the second track marvels in ways that surpass even the high standards set by the surrounding 9 cuts. “Wild” starts with a a haunting drum track and a bit of feedback, before Alex Scully’s gorgeous guitar line kicks in. This is one thing that this record shows off more than any Beach House release before: Scully has grown as a melodic guitarist, pairing his riffs with his singer’s spectral voice so well that you want them to collaborate forever. As Victoria Legrand joins the fun with the weirdly specific opening line of “My mother said to me/ that I would get in trouble/My father won’t come home/Cuz he’s seeing double”, you’re immediately transported to a realm between worlds: the real, where a drunk father is a growing concern, and the mystical, which is where Beach House’s music takes you. It’s quite the juxtaposition, and its one that the band has been building towards for their entire career. The chorus of the song does nothing to tarnish the buildup, as Legrand’s voice hits her high notes, reminding you that she is one hell of a singer now that she’s got the confidence to test herself.
Lead singles (if they can be called that; perhaps “introductions” would be better) “Myth” and “Lazuli” encircle “Wild”, providing quality counterpoints and standout tracks in their own right. The latter, especially, threatens to overwhelm with Legrand’s harmonizations and a perfectly crafted chorus that name-checks one of the rarer gems in pop culture. “Like no other/ you can’t be replaced,” indeed. “Myth” starts with a cowbell, kicking off the record in rather bold form with a statement of quality assurance. This is not your father’s dream pop band; this is bigger and better and infinitely more weighty.
It’s not an understatement to say that there are no weak tracks on Bloom. Perfectly sequenced, the 10 tracks all bring something different to the table, from the singsongy “The Hours” to the lengthy ode to new beginnings “New Year.” The second half’s MVP is “Troublemaker,” a windy beast of a track that meanders back and forth between calm and bombastic, drawing you in with a hug before unleashing the most passionate kiss of your life. By the time album closer “Irene” finishes its first half with a repeated “It’s a strange…paradise,” you feel exhausted and thrilled to press repeat…only to find that there is a sizable hidden track 10 minutes that ropes you in for one last hurrah. That’s Bloom in a nutshell, really: when you think it can’t thrill you, shock you, and fill you with wonder any more, it throws one more melody that makes your jaw hit the floor. Don’t worry; it’ll be there when you recover, and as spring turns to summer, and the heat comes on, you can have this hour-long pocket of sonic flora to remind you that sometimes, beauty is all you need.
By Luis Paez-Pumar
OurVinyl | Contributor