A lot can be said for music that tells a story—immediately and distinctly engaging like a novel, often accompanied by an interesting moral. However, when an artist uses sound to convey emotion without the aid of anecdotes, the achievement is not only more impressive but also much more potent. Beach House is a veritable master of this trick—their music illustrates the indescribable melancholy for the magic of love lost. Their new album Bloom is a poignant ode to youth and dreams, revealing how brief, yet stunning, existence can be.
The duo behind Beach House, French-born Victoria Legrand and Baltimore native Alex Scally, have been together since 2004 and produced four albums. They use a simple set-up—an organ, slide guitar, and programmed drums—to curate a lush sound-space that appears much larger. Their last album, Teen Dream, was so close to flawless that I worried Bloom might disappoint, even if it was a masterpiece. Instead, the group has matured (or bloomed, so to speak) into something even better.
The band has produced a beautiful dream pop record, similar to their last but with tighter songwriting. “Dreamy” in its unhurried rhythms, airy organ sounds, and slippery guitar riffs, Bloom echoes long after the music stops. I am tempted to describe the sound as nostalgic, though unlike many bands today, Beach House does not employ the tactic of recreating musical atmospheres from prior generations to place listeners in this state. Instead, their music suspends you in a trance, allowing you to move into whatever space makes you feel sentimental. The duo achieves a timeless effect and allows much more personal connection to the music.
According to Beach House’s label, Sub Pop, Bloom is meant to be experienced as an album. The songs are carefully crafted so that each chord and melody performs a specific role to form a sum greater than its parts. That said, the songs hold together well even out of context.
If you have a long, late night highway drive, put on this album and you feel as if you are a spaceship wandering through a mysterious galaxy. What more could one really ask of music? Victoria Legrand summed up the album succinctly: “Bloom is a journey. For me, it is about the irreplaceable power of imagination as it relates to the intense experience of living. A bloom is only temporary… a fleeting vision of life in all its intensity and color, beautiful even if only for a moment.”
Dave Greek is a senior in MSB and contributing writer to our new feature called “Out of Tune”, a series of music reviews. If you’re interested in reviewing a concert or a recently-released album, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by CIMS pics of Beach House record display at Record Archives in Rochester, NY