Monday, May 7, 2012
Beach House: Bloom (Release Date: 5-15-2012)
Elements of surprise are usually of the utmost importance to me for a musical act. Not Beach House. The Baltimore tandem has been one of my favorite acts for years now, despite the fact that the album-to-album variance in their sound is almost exclusively an issue of recording styles. The more money/fame/praise the band receives, the more, 'produced,' their sound becomes. But the duo isn't stupid: Legrand and Scally know that their lo-fi style is important to their sound, and because of this, each new effort takes smaller steps towards studio shine than the last. As a result, Bloom can often feel like a B-Side collection from the Teen Dream recording sessions, with one pivotal difference: There's no drop-off in quality.
For this reason, talking about individual tracks on Bloom can almost feel a bit unnecessary. Lead single and opening track Myth plays out pretty much as expected, it's night-time enormity almost as predictable as it is gorgeous. The disc has its world-conquerers (Myth, Irene), its sunny-hums (Other People, The Hours, Wishes) and its ballads (On the Sea), expertly alternating between styles just as Teen Dream did before it. And while nothing on Bloom matches that disc's unbelievable opening half, the band's new release might be a tad more consistent. It also has Lazuli up its sleeve, a sumptuous, sparkling number that immediately slots next to the band's more powerful tracks.
No, Beach House has not reinvented the wheel here, but why should they? No one does Dream Pop anywhere near as well as they do (Did that silly genre tag even exist before them?), and they don't look like they're changing the recipe anytime soon. I do have to bring up one real gripe, though: How can this band still not have a drummer? Maybe Legrand and Scally don't want a third party to intervene with what they know is working, but their use of drum machines can get pretty damn distracting (if that isn't just a basic, cheapy keyboard setting on Wild, then I don't know what). Other than that, we've got a real winner here. If Beach House isn't your flavor, there's absolutely, positively nothing here that will change your tune. If you're a sucker for their comely grandeur (like me), then you need to get your hands on this as quickly as possible.