To the wider audience, Teen Dream was year zero for Beach House. Nothing changed musically. Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand made heavily romantic, hazy dream pop on their eponymous debut, as they did with Devotion. It’s what they do. It’s what they did with Teen Dream. Only consistency, built on great songwriting with some subtle tweakings brought the duo’s introspective vision to bigger label attention and bigger stages (and wowing live performances).
So. Consistency. It can be dull, right? Shrugging shoulders, kicking a can down the road, a conversation about new album Bloom might go a little like this:
“Have you heard the new Beach House?”
“What’s it like?”
“The same? Cool.”
And it is, the same. And it is, great. But maybe a little less similar and perhaps even a little greater than you might think. Sometimes, it takes a live performance to highlight what a band are trying to achieve with a record. To use their stage setting as visual analogy, when Beach House played Vicar St. on their Teen Dream tour, they used illuminated structures, shrub like, and hypnotic visuals as a lure into a warm, whimsical, woodsy world. This time ‘round it’s more like a Berlin video; giant rotating wall fans in an aircraft hanger, creating a commanding open space. Space big enough for organ drones to chase the afterglow of guitar lines, with husky vocal clouds billowing over thunderous drums – and so ‘Wild’ opens the show.
In a set atmospherically dense from the off, fractal chord structures lead melodic howls (‘The Hours’), baroque harmonies were sung by hundreds (‘Zebra’), smiles broadened (‘Walk In The Park’) and hairs stood on end (‘Norway’). Beach House do this breathlessly. They deliver that misty, drunk punch like few others. But this is the Bloom tour, and it’s the songs of Bloom’s that batten with an even greater punch. ‘Lazuli’ twinkled “In the blue of the night / where it end in this light”, spiralling upwards on cushioned layers and trailed by rare flirty tones. ‘Other People’, in its own danceable narrative, engrossed and educated. ‘Troublemaker’ swept defiantly, folds of crescendos and over-riding taut twangs. And ‘Irene’. Well ‘Irene’ – delivering walls of reverb, choral spikes and chiming climbs – shone so bright, the story of Icarus could be retold with a female lead. Only our heroine flies to the centre of the sun and back unscathed; “It’s a strange paradise.” This is what Beach House are doing now. Face-melting brilliance.