It’s an understatement to say Beach House‘s fourth album Bloom was long-awaited, especially after 2010’s Teen Dream received such high praise from both music press and synth-pop fans. On their first two albums, Beach House were a talented dream-pop duo, playing sleep-walking melodies with a lo-fi touch, something to fall asleep in a cottoned bed on a cloudy day but it was rarely intriguing or breathtaking. Teen Dream was a big step forward because lyrics became more bitter than dreamy, the sound clearer and airy, but mostly because Victoria Legrand let loose and spread her fantastic voice beyond Nico-like comparisons, to a point where she was the driving force of countless heart-wrenching moments like ‘Walk In The Park’, ‘Silver Soul’ and ‘Used To Be’. Bloom is the same band trying to translate this new vision into something even more liberating and ambitious, to the risk of giving up a part of emotional power.
It’s an album of brighter-than-light melancholy, but mostly expressed in cryptic ways, like on ‘Wishes’ where Victoria wonders whether destiny exists, or ‘Other People’ that seems to talk about living on the road and meeting a lot of people who want to be your friend after a few minutes talk. But these misterious lyrics are part of Bloom‘s charm as it fits perfectly with the amazing production, wrapping your ears and lifting you like a rocket to the skies. One listen of the crying guitar lines building momentum on ‘Wild’, or the surnatural vocal harmonies on the intro of ‘New Year’ makes you feel like a tiny bird watching the ocean from above on a summer morning.
The songs of Bloom are longer and less verse-chorus-verse oriented than what the band used to write but they don’t waste time and they are always going somewhere. The best illustration of this is the six minutes long ending track ‘Irene’, which manages to maintain the tension throughout. It’s like the track just opened its petals, and there couldn’t be a better way to show that Teen Dream was only a bud and Bloom is a full grown rose. Let’s say they are both the same beauty, just at different times. If perfection is always a dangerous word to use in the music review sphere, there’s something close to it here.