Can you call it? See it coming?
Just enough to tell a story ’bout a portrait
of a young girl waiting for a new year
Beach House‘s two members – Victoria Legrand and Alex Scully – combine to produce what will be seen as one of the year’s best albums. Their success comes from the fact that they act as a true pair: each plays on the other, pushing each other further and demonstrating both sides of a universal coin. On the one hand, Legrand’s lyrics battle with the pain inherent in any life change – with the feeling of being lost and ungrounded:
All you ever wanted
is it getting in the way?
On the other hand, Bloom is musically thrilling with insistent drums and drum machines, dancing guitar lines, tremendous melodies, and a single-minded importance that grounds the album’s thematic sobriety, giving the songs a significance that keeps them far away from self-important ostentation. Legrand’s voice ties the music together into a simple beauty that cocoons her words.
On the terrific opener “Myth“, Legrand lays out the basic problem:
and in between
it’s never as it seems
Bloom never leaves that ground, but rather develops it, giving voice to the moments of unknown that exist within the process of becoming who you are, of the trauma in losing sight of yourself. But they always conclude, as they do on “New Year“, that
You were getting stronger memories again
Now you’re open wider
It’s better this way
Each song shows a different form of this idea. On “Lazuli“, Legrand sheds light on the despondent mode endured in leaving a loved one that simply isn’t cut out for that role anymore. Over 8-bit keys, her soaring voice of soothing melancholia delves deep into the abyss:
and I don’t dare slip on by
Make us suffer like no other
“Other People” – another gem – shifts to the misunderstanding discovered when the friendship bond dissipates:
Other people want to keep in touch
Something happens and it’s never enough
But the band inevitably shows significance rather than despair, as Legrand’s voice gives a boost to the soul. She doesn’t simply appeal a disheartening event, but rounds out the picture with the other side:
It’s your world
Why would you fake it?
Beach House’s genius is in showing the complexity of the whole affair. That approach completes the album’s best song, “The Hours“. The apex of Bloom‘s sonic and thematic style, it shows the “violence in the flowers”, as Legrand says early on. It displays the trauma of the process of growing and moving on as a whole:
Made in your reflections
so that you could feel
Made in your intentions
Fear it isn’t real
But with the recognition that “it’s deeper than you and me”, Beach House prove that their subject is deserving of the treatment they give it. The album finds its importance and its hold on the listener. With tact and astounding beauty, they give us an homage to a feeling – a feeling that envelopes and pervades Bloom. And in the closer (“Irene“), they give a fitting vision for where they’re heading:
It’s a strange paradise
You’ll be waiting