Thursday, August 9, 2012

Beach House- Bloom

Dream-pop is a genre label that I find overly vague and yet also dead-on. Even as it applies to a wide array of bands, it paradoxically fits them all, too. Beach House's music, for instance, seems perfectly encapsulated by the term: it's dream-like, to be sure, suffused with spacious atmospheres and a floating feeling, and it's pop-y, too, because the songs are pretty and catchy.

Bloom is not as immediate and catchy as Teen Dream, but in terms of sheer dreamy atmosphere, no other record they've done matches it. Bloom seems patent-made to be treasured forever with its ancestors, like The Cocteau Twins' Treasure, by people who enjoy gray, rainy afternoons and spend a lot of time alone. The atmosphere and feeling of Bloom is what I imagine Zoloft or cough syrup highs are like, a sort of half-awake reverie; a physical sensation of floating in mid-air as if in a pool of water.

I've had a tricky time falling for this record, chiefly because I think the band are just on a plateau after Teen Dream and have let some of the sharp hooks and melodies slide in favor of the aforementioned atmosphere. However, I have to say, while this band's albums may require more patience than usual, they always pay off. The first few times I listened to Bloom, I thought it was half-finished and lazy. The songs are all longer than four minutes (the shortest one, 'The Hours', is one of the better songs, by the by) and the whole thing required a conscious commitment to listen to on my part instead of the endless replay-ability of Teen Dream and Devotion.

Now, though, the slow burn of tracks like 'Lazuli' and 'Other People' sound less like lazy coasting and more like a confident band maturing further in how they write and structure songs, easing into effortless songwriting style that takes a few listens to reveal itself. This is the level The Walkmen reached with the underrated You & Me, and The National hit with the (slightly) overrated High Violet. Not to mention, there is a lot to be said for basking in the intoxicating glow this band offers. If Bloom isn't as impressive and immediate as Teen Dream, it's still damn impressive, and nearly as good. It just takes some time to, uhm, bloom.

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