Bloom by Beach House (Sub Pop Records, 2012. 50 minutes)

Beach House consists of French-born Victoria Legrand (vocals and organ) and American Alex Scally (guitars and keyboards). The band is often labeled as “dream pop” due to the slow, atmospheric progressions within its songs. Bloom marks the band’s fourth studio album.

What’s in a Name?


In hearing the name of the band, Beach House undoubtedly causes images of beaches, summertime, or perhaps sangria-filled afternoons. However, despite the name, Beach House’s music is stereotypically dark, monotonous (in a good way), and hypnotic. In a musical world that tries to remain under the same standard, Beach House has attempted to create a unique and artistic sound. On first glance, the newest album, Bloom, doesn’t diverge from the hypnotic feel of albums past. That’s not quite right, however.
In an interview with Pitchfork, the duo revealed that they intentionally decided not to change their sound, but rather their lyrical content. Their sole desire is to maintain an artistic and unique sound, in an industry that chooses to intentionally have music cut from a cookie-cutter mold.

Myth


If you listen to the first track on the album, “Myth”, you can hear the signature hypnotic sound almost instantaneously. Victoria emerges with her typical soulful voice, with some deep, and thought-provoking emotions intertwined.

“What comes after this momentary bliss? / The consequence of what you do to me”

Lapis Lazuli

Photo by R. Tanaka

Perhaps the deepest lyrics come from the song “Lazuli”, one which Legrand admits is also her favorite track on the album. The song begins with a drum-machine and music-box synth, dreamily hinting at something to come further in the track. After the first thirty seconds or so, you can hear an entire spectrum of sound emerge in one beautiful moment. When I researched the term lazuli, all of a sudden the track came together. Lazuli is a blue variety of the mineral lazurite, and it has an impeccable brilliance to it.   

“In the blue of this life / Where it ends in the night / When you couldn’t see you would come for me”

The song ends with repetitive lyrics, further enunciating the beauty of the deep blue gemstone.

“Like no other, you can’t be replaced”.

Momentary Poppy


But, all songs can’t be deep and introspective in today’s musical landscape. The fan base knows what they like, as the current radio scene evidences. Sometimes, a lack of introspection just makes people enjoy music without intellectual basis. Still keeping the textured and hypnotic feel of the rest of Beach House’s repertoire, the song “Other People” just has a certain element of pop to it. With a head-bobbing chorus, the lyrics ring,

“Other people want to keep in touch / Something happens and it’s not enough / Never thought that it would mean so much”

Subtlety


Beach House has created an album of subtle nuances and an evolution in their sound. The same dark-themed, largely hypnotic, and sultry sounds of albums past are still very much present. But, when listening to the album overall, I think there is a new depth and solidarity to the sound. With lyrical evolution, the album seems both the same and somehow different from the past. I find it intriguing that Beach House chose to evolve lyrically rather than musically, as it hints at their philosophical stance on music. Perhaps they believe that music is only as powerful as the lyrics which inspire it. Perhaps they’re right, at any rate they’re making me ponder the question. Bloom is true to its name: the band is assuredly blooming into its own.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Do you think that lyrical content is important to a song? Or is it ancillary? Do you enjoy Bloom or find it the same as past albums? Share your thoughts below.

Posted by: Andrew Jacobson
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