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  • Bloom
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Bloom
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57 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2012
Like the album that preceded it, Bloom builds on Beach House's lyrical themes and musical style, evolving in a way that never compromises the band's sound. New, lush atmospheres are introduced and the recording quality is getting better with every release, but you could easily throw any song from Bloom into the same mix as any song from Devotion and they would sound great in succession. As in past reviews, I chose to review this album track-by-track. Some people are annoyed by this style of review and I respect that, so if you choose to stop reading, just know that this is likely the best album you will hear in 2012. Now, for those who are game to journey on...

Myth - With its simple programmed brush-brush-brush-cowbell intro, the band begins the album with a somewhat minimalist approach. From here, the instruments and vocals layer on and continue to build to an epic climax. From the first song, it is well understood that Beach House is back, and in top form. (10/10)

Wild - Of all the songs on this album, this one is likely the most nostalgic. The lyrics seem to tap into the same hazy territory that most of Teen Dream existed within. This time, the focus seems to be a conflicted father and the mistakes he possibly made. For this reason, Wild plays like a repressed memory. (9/10)

Lazuli - Released on Record Store Day on a limited 7" (which I missed by a long shot, thanks to my job), Lazuli is one of the singles. An arpeggiating synthesizer part carries the rhythm throughout this track, and like in "Myth," it lays the foundation. Bloom does not have any skip tracks to speak of, but this song needs time to grow on me. (6/10)

Other People - With each listen, this song gets better. The chorus might be the most infectious on the album. "Other people want to keep in touch." I find this line floating through my head at the most random times. (10/10)

The Hours - This is my absolute favorite song on the album. When Bloom leaked a few weeks ago, this was the only track that was an incomplete file, which only heightened my anticipation for the physical album release. Words cannot do it justice. (Also, if you downloaded the leak, make sure to support the band and buy the album!) (10/10)

Troublemaker - A slow burner, "Troublemaker" is this album's "Norway." Like in many Beach House songs, the chorus is where the song explodes with a passionate, melancholic burst of dreamy Beach Boys style guitar work. *For an interesting influence on this sound, check out "All I Wanna Do" by The Beach Boys on Youtube. You will be floored. (8/10)

New Year - Droning guitars are introduced along with a looping drum machine, which, when mixed together, lends itself to the sounds of My Bloody Valentine. With a faintly oriental melody in the chorus, this song is one of the faster songs on a reletively slow album. (6/10)

Wishes - It's hard to say what I find more emotional about this wistful song, Legrand's airy vocals or Scally's extremely precise lead guitar. Either way, it's straight out of a dream. (10/10)

On the Sea - Much like on Teen Dream's "Real Love," this song is Bloom's piano ballad. Like the title suggests, this song conjures up images of a taking to the sea, with its upbeat rollicking piano. This might be the closest Beach House has ever come to stepping out of their signature cloud of dreamy haze. (9/10)

Irene - A perfect album closer for an album that should go on forever, "Irene" is the band at its dreamy best. (10/10)

Like the strangely insular teenage landscape John Hughes created in his movies or the glowing nostalgic universe of The Wonder Years, Beach House has managed to imagine their own fragile world for all of us to get lost in. It's a strange paradise.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2012
I wouldn't expect anything less. While this album may not reach the same mainstream appeal as Teen Dream it is just as amazing. After the first listen I realized that I got lost in Victoria's haunting voice somewhere in the middle. I initially thought it wasn't as dynamic as their last but I have since changed my mind. It is a treat and also a task to listen from start to finish which is a credit to the production. I don't want to say that it gets better with every listen because it was brilliant from the start but it does have that signature Beach House hook. The sound quality of the vinyl is up there with some of my best sounding records. The 2 12-inch LP's are played at 45rpm which seems to add a noticeable depth to the music. I'm not an expert but I assume that the higher speed means the cartridge receives more information for a given time interval. It sounds so much better than the digital copy that is included. If you love Beach House then you probably don't need to be convinced but if you're looking for good music make the jump. Newcomers might warm up with Teen Dream then Bloom before Beach House and Devotion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2013
Really enjoy this album, different sound than most bands. Catchy tunes with some depth as well. I liked all songs except troublemaker and it wasn't bad by any means. Also, this is a cohesive album with an underlying concept. Listen to it as a whole and you will appreciate it more. My only complaint is the 8 minutes of silence after Irene until the final song. Found this not a very good idea. Tried to listen to a bit of their previous album , many people liked it better, I think Bloom is much better. 4.5 from me.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2013
Anything I say about this album will be unsatisfying to me because this music touches places that I cannot explain. We like to think we know who we are and what we are doing, and yet I suspect that beneath the surface we all harbor secret love, regret and hope. The music from Bloom speaks directly to things beneath our surfaces. But Bloom does not merely speak, it seduces and convinces us that our feelings are being expressed in the music. We remember, soar or weep when the music turns in a particular direction. If you have some empathy for this music, you will be taken on a journey to nostalgic places full of love. It is romantic and heart felt.
My favorite tracks from this album are Myth, Lazuli, Wishes and On The Sea, but I am not sure. I think I can change my mind every time I listen to Bloom. I am listening to "Irene" as I write this and I am utterly transformed. So slow, so slowly this music moves me. And how often can I say that I am moved by any form of art? Hardly ever. Each song in Bloom is absolutely necessary to its completion. If I could give it six stars, I would.
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71 of 104 people found the following review helpful
Amazon recommended this album because I liked both Yellow House by Grizzly Bear and Within & Without by Washed Out. In truth, the latter album hasn't grown on me so well. There are still times when I appreciate and feel enlivened by its ethereal aggressiveness, but I have listened to it less and less as time passes.

I have never heard of or listened to this group before. If you're a fan, you should read a different review. This is from the perspective of someone who tried something new based on a few good reviews and product cross-promotion.

Many reviews talk about the "lushness" of this album, which reminds me of the rave reviews that My Bloody Valentine or Mercury Rev got back in the day. "Lush" usually means "huge blocks of fuzzy sound," and while such things can be orchestrated well (Ulrich Schnauss, for instance), it just sounds lazy here. There's not the same kind of craft or detail to the sound as there is in Grizzly Bear. Other reviews describe Bloom's songs as being "dreamscapes," and I guess you could call them that, but things can still happen in dreams. Each of these songs, however, takes one musical idea and just cranks it around in a circle. The songs, about gentle, ephemeral, vague topics, don't have much to say, and they say them in inoffensive, angelic tones that never flirt with any interesting varieties.

Some might like this, but to me it sounds mostly like treading water. "Troublemaker" was the only song that seemed to have an interesting progression or tonality. The rest is vaguely repetitive and not particularly unique. It's well done, I suppose, if not a little overwrought, but just too dull to hold my interests. If you want the musical equivalent of waves lapping the beach in the background, an unobtrusive mural of soft noise, then I would recommend this album. If you want music that provides waves you can surf, you should look elsewhere.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2012
This album has a much bigger sound than any of their previous albums. Like many, my first introduction to Beach House was Teen Dream, which took a while for me to "get". Now it is one of my favorite albums - it gets a 10/10 for me. With Bloom, it took me a little less time to grasp, but like with all their other albums, the music isn't exactly immediate. Beach House's music has a very heavy, hypnotizing effect so it takes a few listens to notice the nuances and layers. I found that Bloom is very much a continuation of where they left off with Teen Dream. Generally, I prefer the sound on Teen Dream, but I like what they did on this album in terms of the direction they took with the sound.

"Wishes" is an immediate standout for me, especially with Alex Scally's wonderful guitar break in the middle of the song. "Other People," which Beach House has performed while touring for Teen Dream, has a nostalgic sound to it. The chord progressions on it are heartbreakingly lovely, quite like "Silver Soul." "Myth" is also an instant winner - it shares some very similar characteristics with "Zebra" (including the key), but it is faster and has more sounds in the background. "Troublemaker" and "On the Sea" are lovely songs - they form the softer side of the album. "On the Sea" is to Bloom what "Real Love" is to Teen Dream.

Songs like "The Hours," "Wild" and "Irene" took me longer to get into. I really like how Victoria does the vocals on "The Hours" - the way she slides one note to the next while singing the same syllable. I did find the ending of the song a little anticlimactic though. "Wild," which for me is the most experimental-sounding song on the record, has easily the biggest-sounding drums of all the songs, but more than that, when the melody grabs you on the line "wild in our ways" you're basically hooked. "Irene" is like a slow-burn cousin of "10 Mile Stereo" with an intense build-up at the end.

"Lazuli" is probably the most progressive song of the record, though it's still very accessible and simple. This song has lots of layers and there's some vocal looping at the end which is very beautiful. "New Year" is, for me, the weakest song on this album. It's a little too predictable - but I enjoyed the slide effects on the guitar.

And for fans of their older stuff, the hidden track at the end of "Irene" sounds like a leftover track from their first album, with a vintage drum machine sound.

I wish Beach House had done something a little different, to surprise us a little bit more. I felt that the songwriting could have been supported with better, even bigger-sounding arrangements, especially with the drums. This is one area where I feel like their attempt to hold on to a classic Beach House sound kind of holds them back a little. Perhaps they wanted to try to sound bigger but still retain a certain tone of intimacy and, I guess, familiarity. Regardless, I definitely enjoyed this album. I have no doubt they'll keep putting out great releases in the future.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Very much in the tradition of their first three albums, Beach House has created another lush, evocative, classic-sounding record. Ethereal vocals are bathed in dense, shimmering, swelling, synth-driven orchestrations and languid rhythms.

Since the band hews throughout the album to a single, relatively consistent tempo and texture, inattentive listeners may write it off as tedious or soporific. But I see "Bloom" as a fruition and a blossoming of the band's unique, carefully crafted sound. Both beautiful and subtle, simultaneously simple and complex, this a record with a great deal of depth.

I could write about individual songs, but I can't describe them in a way that would meaningfully differentiate them. There are many high points, especially on the first few mesmerizing tracks and on the long closer (which contains a hidden bonus song after five minutes of silence), yet there are no singles to speak of. The entire album is an organic whole, a unitary work of art meant for dreaming, swaying, lazing, and musing. It's pop music, but it's not for everyone, and it doesn't try to be.

If you're in the right frame of mind, the warm, wistful, melodic, atmospheric music on "Bloom" sets a magical mood. It will be playing at many a beach house and on many a beach this summer.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2012
I was scared when approaching this review of what I refer to as the 'first album imprint syndrome' where the first release you encounter by a band leaves such a strong impression that it makes assessing their future output in an impartial way highly difficult. This phenomenon is further reinforced if the band's other material sticks to a similar melodic or compositional framework. After listening to 'Bloom' a couple of times I realised that yes, the syndrome was in full effect - this release sounds a great deal like its predecessor. Gulp...difficult review...

It took me a long time to fully warm to 'Teen Dream' so I purposefully didn't attempt to write this for a solid week and a good twelve or so listens, hoping that not only would the album grow on me, but also that it would forge a unique identity all of its own. I'm happy to report that I've slowly warmed to 'Bloom', some of the songs included here are truly exceptional, and yes, importantly this release has just enough new ideas to escape being labelled a mere retread...and yet...and yet...I can't quite shake the feeling this falls just a little short in the final reckoning.

Firstly it is important to emphasise that in one major way this album is superior to 'Teen Dream' - the production and sound layering is noticeably improved. Richer, fuller, more varied instrumentation - the sound quality is top banana. The downside is that unfortunately the writing is less consistently distinctive, the vocal melodies less memorable, some of the instrumentation a little overly familiar.

Things start off strongly, 'Myth' is everything you could possibly want from a Beach House song - the final verse starting with the resigned lament 'You can't keep hangin' on to all that's dead and gone' and finishing with the emotional outpouring 'let the ashes fly!' is transcendent stuff. A beautiful opening and the quality is kept high with 'Wild', tasty layering with the underlying keyboard lines and some of Legrand's best vocal melodies on the album, right up there with her most impressive moments on 'Teen Dream'.

Third out of the traps is 'Lazuli' - a fantastic intro but overall the composition plays out like a slighter, less focused retread of 'Norway' and sees the songwriting dip a shade. Similarly 'Troublemaker' and 'Other People' have their limitations, both built on plodding tempos, neither flows as satisfyingly as you'd expect and both boast choruses with a tacked on quality I can't shake off even after repeated listens. 'New Year' also has a mildly suspect chorus, a fraction too twee, though I love the verses and that drone sound that flows throughout. Despite these minor weaknesses none of these tracks actively hinder the flow of the album and all have their impressive attributes too.

The remaining material redresses the balance, reverting back to the quality of that opening pairing - 'The Hours' is pure catchy goodness and sports a reassuringly singalong chorus, the slow building 'Wishes' then opens a three song closing stretch of impressive form that takes us through the outstanding piano led ballad 'On the Sea' that might just trump 'Teen Dream's similar 'Real Love', and bows out in style with the soaring guitars and mantra vocals of 'Irene'. A strange decision to leave a patch of silence leading to a hidden track after this incredible finale but hey ho, no major drama cobber.

So in summary for me 'Bloom' isn't quite as beguiling as its predecessor though whether or not I was entirely successful in setting aside that pesky 'first album imprint syndrome' I couldn't honestly tell you. You be the judge of that - it matters not, either way the album is well worth investigating.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2013
I seriously can't stop listening to this album. I got it late just because I wasn't 100% sure if I wanted it but it's just so good. I really like ambient and chill out-ish music and this is just great. A real easy listen and it is pretty interesting how it's packaged, since it is a double vinyl you would expect it to open but it doesn't instead they made the cover kind of box-y or 3-dementional I guess, to put two vinyl sleeves in instead also the sleeves are like inside of sleeves that have pictures on them it's really nice. Pick this up if you can!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
My husband introduced me to this band knowing my love for female-fronted bands. At times, Beach House reminds me of Julee Cruise. Twin Peaks-esque but with their own uniqueness. I've been playing Bloom non-stop during my drive to and from work. The cd keeps getting better & better.
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