Each year, there are one or two records that stand apart from everything else released during the past twelve months. These records possess a sense of otherness, almost as if they exist in an entirely different universe than every other piece of music released during that year. In 2011, F***** Up’s David Comes to Life and Destroyer’s Kaputt towered above their competition. In 2010, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs followed likewise. This year was lacking such a record until May 15, when Beach House’s masterful fourth album, Bloom, was released.
Beach House’s previous LP, Teen Dream, was deemed by many their breakout, introducing their hazy dream-pop sound to a much wider audience. While it doesn’t quite reach the dizzying heights of Teen Dream, Bloom proves it was certainly not a fluke, establishing Beach House as one of the finest bands working today.
In an interview with Pitchfork, lead singer Victoria Legrand recounted some of the concerns she and guitarist Alex Scally had when recording Bloom, “How do you describe a feeling without saying ‘this is the feeling’? How do you take something completely natural, that will eventually transfer to the listener, but not just settle for that instant feeling of ‘you hurt me,’ and go to an imaginary landscape instead?”
This type of transcendence is enormously difficult to achieve in any medium of art, yet Beach House manage to pull it off completely. Bloom has a wonderfully ethereal quality that makes the listener feel as if he is being transported to another world, an “imaginary landscape,” if you will. This is due largely to the incredible synergy between Legrand and Scally, which has progressed to such an extent that it is almost impossible to imagine they cannot communicate telepathically. Scally’s lush slide-guitar riffs complement Legrand’s smoky vocals in a manner that can only be described as otherworldly. The effect is hypnotic, making the album’s fifty-minute runtime feel much shorter. By the time it ends, you don’t want to leave their rich, breathtaking world. The only remedy is to play it again, and again, and again.
While not as accessible as Teen Dream, Bloom has an air of mystery about it. The hooks are not as obvious, the song structures a bit less conventional. But every time I listen to it, I get the feeling that I’m that much closer to solving the puzzle. That if I listen just one more time, I’ll have it figured out. But I never do, and probably never will. Yet it’s that tantalizing possibility, the feeling that I’m this close. Like Charlie Brown’s futile efforts to finally kick that football. Both he and I know Lucy will always, always pull it away at the last second. But we both know that won’t keep him from trying, because he’s too close. And that’s the beauty of Bloom, it keeps you in its orbit, but just far enough that you’ll never figure it out. It’s a puzzle wrapped in a riddle, nestled in an enigma, and an enchanting one at that. A siren, making you forget everything except that impossibly beautiful, utterly captivating sound.