Beach House released their fourth album, “Bloom,” on May 15. The dream-pop/indie-rock duo formed in 2004 with Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand. Since, the pair has gained positive feedback from all their albums, but “Bloom” distinguishes itself by exploring new depths while remaining true to their entrancing sound. Driven by keyboard, organ and guitar, the vocals seem to play less of a role than with past albums. Unfortunately, the album has a tendency to get lost in these extensive interludes, which cloud the meaning of the tracks.
The album starts out with “Myth,” a track introduced with a whimsical keyboard and violins, prevalent throughout most of the piece. In fact, the whole album uses with long intros and fadeouts. Despite the length, the tracks are soothing and calming. The third track, “Lazuli,” focuses on keyboard chords while “New Year” perks up with a livelier chorus. This style is not for everyone, but the harmony of flowing rhythms and loose vocals certainly works for a relaxing, therapeutic listening experience.
Beach House continues its style with bittersweet lyrics, largely echoed by the accompanying instruments. In “Myth,” Scally sings, “What comes after this momentary bliss, the consequence of what you do to me,” followed by “help me to make it” as a chorus. It explores a theme of healing while not necessarily making it romantic or delusional. Furthermore, the narrative of a troubled family is rhymed with with the accompaniment of a soft tambourine. That isn’t to say that there aren’t more romantic tracks. “Other People” includes lyrics, “help me keep us together.” The album as a whole focuses on lyrics and themes that reveal universal human experiences: love, hurt, forgiveness and healing.
Unfortunately, the lyrics occasionally seem to drown in the musical accompaniment. “The Hours” is one of the more mediocre tracks with lyrics, “frightened eyes looking back at me, change your mind, don’t care about me.” Brief, incoherent phrases such as this can make it difficult to follow and understand. As a result, the vague words weaken the track. Similarly, “Wishes” stresses the image of “wishes on a wheel. How’s it supposed to feel?” But due to the dreamy nature of the album, meaning is often arbitrary and can be overlooked. However this also puts the album at risk of being incomprehensible and distant.
“Bloom” does manage to evoke complex emotions through its eerie yet whimsical instrumentals and lyrics. It has some intriguing images such as “walls are shaking in their skin,” in “Troublemaker” and a “heart…spilling,” in “On the Sea.” These pronounce both accusation and forgiveness.
Unfortunately, the album’s successes are overshadowed by its shortfallings. This album feels weaker than the group’s earlier work. With the lengthy tracks and excess lyrical obscurity, Beach House has failed to make another outstanding album.