Beach House - Bloom

On 2010’s Chris Coady-produced Teen Dream, Baltimore’s favorite dream pop duo brought the reverb-laden sound they had favored on their debut Beach House and break-through follow-up Devotion out of the fog a little, creating the band’s most accessible (and most popular) album to date. It was, by no mistake, also the band’s most structured (read: expensive) undertaking, pairing the duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally with Coady (TV On The Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grizzly Bear) and the budget of a big label (Sub Pop). It’s a record that can be described as the best Beach House record, at least by the rationale of a song-by-song appraisal; the whole slate of Teen Dream singles like “Zebra,” “Silver Soul,” and “Norway” are among the band’s most immediate, stand-alone tracks, while songs like “Walk In The Park” serve as spiritual successors to songs like Devotion’s gauzy fan favorite “Gila.” It also catapulted them into headliner status — when Teen Dream came out, Beach House was routinely opening for Grizzly Bear. Would that happen now?

Beach House’s Bloom ascribes to the tradition of Teen Dream, asserting itself as an expansive, pristine-sounding release from the first notes of first single and album opener “Myth.” If I didn’t fear that I was selling Bloom short — and I fear that I might be, at least so far — is that it’s Teen Dream 2, a record high on hi-fi ambitions while still maintaining a semblance of the hazy sorcery from its earlier recordings. Legrand’s voice — never a liability, as opposed to many indie rockers’ voices cloaked in curtains of reverb – stays within its comfort zone, exerting an almost-lazy prowess as she seamlessly slides in and out of hooks on songs like “New Year.” “Wishes” is a particular standout, perhaps Bloom’s tautest anthem, pairing a simple, ear-wormy melody, with a lush breakdown and a big bridge. The band, which has often rhapsodized about album openers and closers in previous interviews, picks another pair of doozies here, the immediate salve of “Myth” and the multi-chambered, secret-track-hiding “Irene.”

Though there seemed to be few critical qualms with Teen Dream, I’d imagine some people fondly remember, if not wholly miss, the majestic mystery of a record like Devotion, a record that completely exemplifies the overused “back porch,” sentiment, an intentionally laid-back recording meant to be peeled back and explored dozens of times in pursuit of new meaning or a poignant rephrasing. But, the move away from this atmosphere is in concert with a band striving to break new creative ground and work into more expansive, shiny tones. “We started to grow really tired of the kind of sloppy or fast sound of lo-fi that we were so into in the beginning,” Scally said in an interview conducted before Teen Dream was released. “Just that really fast thing where you try to catch a sound really quickly and try to capture this energy to it. It’s really amazing and so many people do it so well and it can be such an interesting thing. But for me, it just started to get really boring.” What feeds Beach House’s own aspirations is different than what feeds the fans’ emotional and personal attachments to albums, which can be a disappointing disconnect for listeners — not that Bloom is a disappointment or something, because it’s pretty great. It’s just easier to lend your imagination to records like Devotion, and make recordings their own singular continents; they force you to color in most of the sketch yourself, and you get to pick the colors. Bloom, though, is a calculated, articulate affair, all the way down to its release date; if Teen Dream summarized the oncoming breakout of spring and the repeal of winter (release date, 1/26/10), it could be argued that Bloom symbolizes the turnover from the elation of spring into the fever dream of summer. And, would you look at that release date.

Bloom is out 5/15 on Sub Pop.

Comments (155)
  1. Wow this has to be the shortest amount ever between announcement of album and leak.

  2. Holy shnikeys, you guys… Breaking the news (at least to me, this is breaking news…) that Bloom has popped up on the leaks WITH a Premature Evaluation already makes this week a winner when you add on that batshit Skrillex piece the other day (And I want to go on the record to say I’m totally no longer offended by that article. I think I needed it to build up some perspective.)

    Anyhow, I obviously haven’t had a chance to grab the leak but Corban’s assessment matches up with what I was expecting to get out of Beach House this time around. I can’t wait to find interesting ways to love it.

  3. Have not heard it but didn’t need to read much beyond “Teen Dream II” to make me feel all warm and Beach House fuzzy inside….sounds like my summer soundtrack will arrive on May 15th.

  4. Not gonna listen to the leak. Will be better to wait until I can go to my local record store on May 15th.

  5. Yeah, the “Teen Dream 2″ assertion is right on the money, but for some reason that’s not bothering me at all. They don’t really take many risks here, but they are just /so/ good at doing what they do, so it doesn’t matter.

    • I didn’t mean that negatively; ‘Teen Dream’ is awesome (even if I did type ‘Teenage Dream’ a bunch of times in the draft phase). Going with the seasonal thing wouldn’t it be dope if they did like, two more discs and made them fall/winter and summer/fall themed? And released them in some weird way? AM I ON TO SOMETHING?

      • I kind of felt Devotion had that summer / fall thematic going for it, though, with an evening sound fitting for the amber-lit sky as days get shorter, sun burning orange through your window around 6pm in late August and tracks like “Gila” conjuring up Salem, MA witchery.

      • I wasn’t sure what to make of the Teen Dream 2 comment either, but it is pretty clear that you really liked the album. Being able to make an album that is interesting to your fans without having to change your sound very much is definately a good place to be for a band. A comment like that might usually be negative, but in this context it is a pretty solid compliment.

        • It was also meant as a subtle defense of Skrillex. Hope you guys caught that.

          • I wish I knew enough about Skrillex to get into that article. I saw it had about a million comments. Unfortunately I’ve never really listened to him and I don’t have any opinion about him other than thinking he looks a lot like Cory Feldman.

      • Please make that happen.

    • One could even say that Bloom is to Teen Dream as Batman: Arkham City is to Batman: Arkham Asylum (anyone?)

  6. i’m glad sub pop has the budget-backing qualifications of a big label.

    not like EMI and BMG gave this kind of creative freedom to Katy Perry or Ke$ha for the same price or anything…

  7. I would disagree that Beach House’s sound has changed dramatically. If anything, their consistency is admirable to me in a time when most bands (Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, etc.) seem to have a ‘two albums and onto another sound’ thing that throws off their fan base. Their real success, IMO, is in their ability to create songs that aren’t all that different on the surface (lilting guitar arpeggios, cascading keyboards, that voice), yet after a few spins really burrow into your brain for their differences – a moment when Victoria’s voice rises, or an unexpected chord shift. That being said, ‘Bloom’ is a touch shinier in production and more hook-heavy than its predecessors, but still a phenomenal album.

  8. It’s “Teen Dream II” for sure, but I say it’s better, and I don’t think this review gets deep enough into how the Beach House aesthetic has evolved from fairly-standard bedroom-pop project into its own, wholly individualized

  9. DAMN… hit Submit too soon….

    to finalize:

    “into its own, wholly individualized and completely realized project that is practically alchemical in the way it synthesizes both obvious influences and its own obvious musical tendencies into songs that make you say WOW while also still feel cozy and familiar at the same time.”

    OK, the liquor’s kickin’ in for sure, that was not as elegant as I would’ve liked to put it, but I deem Beach House one of the premier acts of our day and put this at #1 on the list of Albums To Beat for 2012.

    drunkard, signing off…………

    • And now I have this mental image of you being like “The new Beach House leaked?! Time to crack open the top shelf!”
      This is quite possible what we all should be doing.

  10. “Teen Dream” was perfect. “Bloom” is more perfect.

  11. just my thought, i get the idea that you don’t really know the album well enough to really endorse it or really say it’s not all that, because you sort of toe a middle line of waffling through the whole review. no offense meant, just sayin.

    • hence the “premature”

      • and this leak literally hit the web like less than 30 hours ago. I know I’ve only had a chance to listen to the album all the way thru like 6 times, but, for me, that’s enough to recognize greatness, which I think this is. And I will make a bold prediction: Beach House are the Bon Iver of next year’s Grammy’s. And you can quote me on that.

        • yeah, i kinda get it. and i like what i’ve heard so far. thanks for the clarification though. you guys know how to help an old fool out like nobody’s business!

        • I actually think it leaked like this past friday or saturday.
          What I’ve found is that it really cements the fact that they’re pretty great songwriters, even though they didn’t really try for any big changes this time around.
          I’m not sure if “Teen Dream II” is exactly accurate, though.
          Unlike Teen Dream, Bloom doesn’t really have a lot of catchy ‘hits’ so to speak (like Walk in the Park, Lover of Mine, etc.). Instead, all the songs seem to blend together in a really beautiful way.
          But I guess my opinion’s pretty premature too, anyway.

          And I, for one, have literally no idea what goes on with the Grammys. So there’s a chance you could be right about that.
          I kind of have the impression that every year they pick the name of a relatively unknown band out of a hat and feel obligated to give them at least one award.
          One day, they’ll pick Sunn O))) or something and they’ll be really screwed.

        • the music snob in me hopes you’re wrong about the grammy’s.

        • I’m thinking it’ll take me about 6 listens too before i’m enamored completely. Agree with Le on the Grammy assessment though. I’m no music snob (I listened to Flockaveli more than any album last year and own every Dave Matthews album) but if an awards show nominates bruno mars for album of the year then I become uninterested with it. As if Adam Levine singing Beach Boys wasn’t a big enough kick to the balls.

          • The Grammy’s comment is more or less facetious, but it could happen – I mean Arcade Fire, Bon Iver – they’re on an “indie” roll lately. The actual point is that this could be Beach House’s “breakout” year – as in moving from Webster Hall to Radio City.

            And someone said there were no “hits” on Bloom? “Other People” anyone? Or, like, any other track….

    • Yes! Because it’s an album that reveals itself slowly, I think it gets more time to be touched by it…

  12. Something about Teen Dream left me cold. I could only get into a few songs. Bloom is a different story. I’ve only had one listen through it, but I’m absolutely in love with it. I think the thing I love the most is that this is a band with ambition. After so many years of lo-fi and bands aspiring to sound “dirty” I’m glad there are a few people out there willing to still go big and overblown.

  13. I just realized mewithoutYou’s new album “Ten Stories” comes out on that date, as well. I will be spending a lot of $$$ in the record store on 5/15, my friends!

  14. good news this week.

  15. I’m listening to ‘Lazuli’ right now, it’s so great. it’s melting me away in arppegiated bliss.

  16. What did we do to deserve this? Go us

  17. There should be no reservations here. This album is great.

  18. heres to hoping they push the release date up because of the leak…April 3rd would work just fine for me.

  19. This is Tyler’s biggest influence. Anyone who says otherwise, LOOK IT UP!!!! I like beach house because Tyler likes them.

    ODD FUTURE > BEACH HOUSE but BEACH HOUSE > MOST OTHER SHIT (cause my boy tyler loves em)

  20. I’m pretty sure this is the best album of the year so far.

  21. Just did my routine listen-without-stopping that I always do for highly-anticipated albums. I like to reserve feedback and give it 3 or 4 or 8 more listens because, while some albums are initially impacting, some impress and grow on you before the resplendent qualities are fully realized. While I can’t say that this is the “album to beat” or anything (mostly because music isn’t a sport or fight), I will say that I don’t see how another song this year can accomplish what “Myth” does. The year is still young though.

  22. Guys, guys, guys….how have we gone THIS LONG without mentioning how much of a sexy sexy sexy Victoria Legrand is?

  23. Without any concern for sounding hyperbolic, I want to say that this album has already had a profound effect on me. Teen Dream was so special for me; without a doubt my favorite album of its year. And now, Bloom has suddenly become my favorite Beach House album. There is a huge beauty in it. Beach House becomes bigger and brighter with every album, and Bloom is the perfect cycle of songs to make me feel absolutely lifted and inspired.

    I just really, really, really love it, and I can’t handle the idea that anyone else doesn’t feel the same way.

  24. Beach House got big money on this record.

  25. Teen dream 2 maybe – this feels like the perfect progression – like a room on fire
    I’ve only really listened to myth and wishes, but have you guys noticed that this album is fucking beautiful? plus, these beats are just, fucking, riding. when that snare comes in on myth and wishes, the beat just starts to ride, and I sponge my pants soooooooooo goooooooooood. somebody should rap on these shits

    beeeeee goooooooooooood.

    • NO. Adding rap verses to these songs would be just awful…

      (though I agree with you that the drum beats are awesome and the album is beautiful)

    • sometimes i feel like you’re making sense
      and you’re just about to say something really meaningful
      and it gets to the point where i’m almost rooting for you

      and then you just veer completely off topic and end up talking about sponging your pants

      so close, donny. so close.

      • “so close, donny. so close.” – that’s what she said (to me, last night)

        ;) ;) :O <—- O-face b/c i'm in O-town too early

        nailed it.

        if you look closely, there is substance (TWSS) in all of my posts. I put a lot of thought, critical analysis, and heart into everything I have ever written on this site (obvs).

        It does remind me of room on fire or reign of terror in that it is a great follow up to a great album (i think i stole these analogies from Tom or corbania but they don't fucking own them as far as i know but i have been wrong before SHOCKER). anyway, I found my visceral reaction to these tracks reminded me of how I often feel when listening to a hip-hop track with a great beat that "rides" if you know what I mean, yet these are really very sweet songs at the core and I don't listen to no sweet/sissy hip-hop becuz I'm a man/puppet (s/o big ghost face).

        So, at the end of day, OBVIIOUSLY I don't want someone to rap on a beach house track WITH victoria. duh, come on bros. but I do think it would be an interesting contrast to have someone spit some fire over these beach house tracks because they evoke a very similar feel within my D that a hip-hop track would. actually, maybe I don't even want that but I just said it because what are you the police?


        d. <3

        • donny, please don’t fake apologize or feel the need to explain. . .

          some of us were right there with you (I’m pretty sure Tyler was there).

          It would be totally dope to have a DOOM track over this (with Victoria), and if she didn’t like it, she could call Robert to bring her back down to earth.

          Robert: “Reality check Victoria, you kind of missed a few notes there, which the rap track really helped to disguise. But keep telling yourself that you’re just soooo hot that it doesn’t matter. Good luck with that workin’ out for you.”

        • G-Side rapped on a Beach House track last year. I think they called it “How Far”. it worked a lot better than I thought it would.

        • i agree with your comparisons but maybe for a slightly different reason, in that for me Room On Fire and Reign of Terror are both perfect follow up albums that still aren’t quite as good as their predecessors, because they never really could be.

        • it’s ok donny
          i’ve lurked around here long enough to know that i love you no matter what

      • don i b feelin u

        the weeknd and ma beach house

  26. how do you embed images in comments?

  27. I have the feeling that this is going to fill the same role as The Rip Tide by Beirut last year–a breezy, beautiful album that will be consistently satisfying on each listen. And it’ll be top 10, if not top 5, for sure.

  28. Beach House covering Gucci Mane. That is all.

  29. What a great blog post, really interesting views/

  30. I must say I’m disappointed with this album. It’s very nice to say the least, but it doesn’t come close to the emotional resonance of Teen Dream. The slick production, while slick, gives the album an icy feeling which I’m not used to, considering how warm and endearing their past efforts were, and I’ll be sure to say nothing on this album comes even remotely close to Silver Soul, Zebra, Take Care or walk in the Park. On a whole it’s a very nice album, it just doesn’t’ really have me coming back for more. As a die hard fan from the get go, I’d honestly say this is my least favorite effort of theirs. Her voice seems held back and the production and melodies leave the whole affair overly calculated and at this stage in the game, slightly boring. Still lovely background music though. Teen Dream is untouchable.

    • Heart of Chambers

    • Yeah…we are coming from completely different places on this one! Weird. I think the vocals have more nuance and range than they ever have had on their albums, and the guitar is so much more lush. I love Teen Dream too, don’t get me wrong, but I’m blown away by this one. Sounds like they have been listening to a lot of Cocteau Twins (Heaven or Las Vegas specifically) but not a bad thing in my book.

      Can’t wait to buy this on vinyl, if anything is lacking (for me)…’s this low bit rip.

      I’d say, just give it more time. It’s not that radical a departure, just refined.

  31. The spring comes in Bloom and I don’t care if 2012 is the end of the world anymore…

  32. Beautiful album. Everything I hoped for and more. I know where I’ll be May 15th… In line with Howse, getting a copy of that vinyl.

    • he’ll pick you up – honestly it’s not a problem

      • Spikelee3000: Hey Joe, do you want me to throw you some gas money for driving me to the record store?
        Joe Howse: Don’t worry about it Spike, your place is right on the way. Plus, driving together will give us a chance to hang out!

        • He’ll say that he was going that way, anyway, though he had already gotten the album in an earlier time zone and flown back to enjoy it all day, night, and the next morning. He’ll buy another copy just to make you feel better, then give it to Robert as a “gag” gift at Christmas before unveiling his actual gift, iTunes credit so that Robert can catchup with all those mewithoutyou tracks he’s been missing.

  33. Wishes reminds me of a song Strawberry Shortcake would sing in a 1980s cartoon.

  34. If we are Home Duplex, then this album is the staircase that lifts us from the profane into the spiritual plane.

  35. The Hours sounds so good, I wish I could have a full version of that song because it feels like its going to build up into something amazing and it just cuts off. It’s giving me major blue balls right now.

  36. And now İ can see why it’s called “dream pop”…

  37. purity ring, elite gymnastics,clams casino, kreayshawn music videos here

  38. I wonder if katy perry’s next album will be called “Bloomage”. Amirite?

  39. I was just texting a friend that Beach House had a new album coming out and my phone autocorrected it to Bitch House. But yes, like most everything they do, Bloom is great.

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