Review: Beach House – Bloom

Even though it’s a term used more now than when it was coined some twenty years ago, “dreampop” has always been a contradictory descriptiion. Of course, there’s always ambition for the artist to appeal to as many listeners as possible but equally there’s a determination to put melodies through an effects blender and let music lovers work for their rewards. So not really “pop” then. Baltimore’s Beach House are proving they might be the act to buck that trend.

The ornate, trembling melody which forms the basis for opener ‘Myth’ is not unlike The Walkmen in its execution. Fine track though it is, it seems like a scene setter compared to ‘Wild’ which uses just about every dreampop hook available and when the vocals are performed by Victoria Legrand, who swoops and sighs on demand perfectly, the duo have clearly bottled their formula on this record. Spreading their magic potion further, ‘Troublemaker’ – thanks largely due to its wonky fairground organ motif – is edgy and mysterious and then crescendoes in to a beautifully melancholic chorus whereas ‘New Year’ is queasily attractive.

Elsewhere, as far as dreampop goes, this is as commercial as the genre can get. There’s no shame in it but if Abba had started twenty years later, it’s feasible they could have written ‘Other People’, ‘Wishes’ or ‘The Hours’. The tunes are epic, hummable and have a universal appeal.   Yet before Swervedriver fans yell “sell out”, the prolonged codas and repetition for the final two songs will keep the shoegaze purists mildly satisfied.

‘Bloom’ is more a consolidation of all that made ‘Teen Dream’ so good and who could blame them for taking that approach?  Infact this will probably be the most sumptuous album anyone could hear this year. Criticisms would be that the production now sounds a little too polished for its own good and there are a few occasions when the formula (languid verses, euphoric chorus) could do with an extra ingredient.

Web Sites:
Beach House Official Site
Beach House MySpace

Further Listening:
The Helio Sequence, Deerhunter, Natureboy, Coastal

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