The dream-pop duo tugs in all the right directions on their best LP to date.
Hari Ashurst 2012
In one way or another Beach House records have always been about the essence of things. Their self-titled first record was characterised by simplicity: ticking drum machines, keys and electric guitar acted as lone backdrops for deceptively simple pop songs.
Tracks from that record, like Apple Orchard and Tokyo Witch, burned off any possible excesses and let melodies sit just so. On first blush Bloom is striking with its expanse and depth; but even in this more detailed surrounding Beach House are still after the same ideas of economy.
Opener Myth pirouettes on elementary percussion and a sparkling guitar line. A head of steam gathers slowly, becoming more textured and wild by increments. So that when Victoria Legrand finishes up the first chorus, singing "Let you know I'm not the only one," the rug is pulled out and the emptiness is all the more startling.
Even though parts of this song – and others on Bloom – can feel quite free-range, there's a solid construction to the way Beach House unravel such pieces. They tug in just the right directions, which can make for quite a deceptive listen. It's easy to be carried along by Bloom's easy sense of beauty, and much harder to trap exactly what it is that makes the record so charming.
The answer lies in small moments and tectonic rubs: the overlapping vocal at the end of Lazuli; Lagrand sliding The Hours into ecstasy late on; or the weightless guitar interlude in New Year. In truth, there are too many such moments to list, and it's probably more fun to discover them yourself. Those small workings of Bloom might not stick out at first but gently push songs towards blissful resolutions that somehow don't feel manipulative or at all corny.
It might sound strange but after spending time with the record what Bloom most calls to mind is macro photography. An extreme close-up shot often reveals hidden depths and textures of familiar subjects. So too with Beach House on this record; guitar lines are blown up, Legrand's vocals are heady and intense, while melodies reveal like time-lapse videos.
Once you manage to pull away from Bloom's magnified scenery and consider the record as a whole it's difficult to think of it as anything other than its makers’ best work so far.