Even those that don’t listen to Beach House have at least heard of this Baltimore duo or know a song from their fourth studio album. Beach House is the product of vocalist and keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally, most famous for creating very distorted, atmospheric sounding songs. This particular album, “Bloom,” definitely lives up to this image. This album stands out from previous releases in the amount of production that went into the tracks. Their previous releases had already established them as a band capable of releasing very likable music. For this reason, like many other bands that prove themselves worthy, they were able to access resources that could enhance the sound of their music. The attention to detail put into the production of “Bloom” makes this “dream pop” album not only a standout among Beach House’s previous releases, but also among any other album within this genre.
Dream pop is an important type of music that has an important role in the modern music industry. It centers around layers of guitar and keyboards, often with the use of effects. The term “wall of sound” is commonly associated with this genre and is very relevant in the state of music today. This word accurately describes the soundscape of “Bloom.” The opening song off the record, titled “Myth,” immediately hooks the listener with an echoing guitar riff that fills the spaces between a couple seconds of a straightforward drum pattern. Legrand’s unique voice allows the listener to easily become lost in its almost comforting quality. The track then smoothly transitions with a soft volume buzz that increases until the listener can detect the rough texture of the synth introducing the next track, “Wild.” Just about every song on this album has an outstandingly clean transition from one track to the other. It is obvious that the artists paid tremendously close attention to detail when producing “Bloom.”
It would be necessary for anyone composing an album to carefully design how the details of each song flows into the other. This is especially true for tracks which deviate from the general mood, such as the ninth song, “On the Sea.” Although it still has a calm, nostalgic mood like almost every other song on this album, it is quite minimalist. It features a simple piano accompanied by a heartbeat-sounding rhythm. Aside from a lead guitar line and a keyboard riff later on in the song, there seems to be a lack of the wall of sound quality found everywhere else.
The closing track, “Irene,” wraps up the whole album so well; this also happens to be my personal favorite. There are plenty of unique elements layered on top of each other that can be found by listening to the album closely. This includes everything from the piercing guitar voice to the very dreamy drum fills that blend all parts of the song into a general soundscape. This gives it a psychedelic experience, which more commonly resembles contemporary dream pop.
While the release of “Bloom” by no means reinvented music, it did redefine an entire genre to an extent. When one does a comparison of contemporary versus prototype dream pop, it almost sounds like current artists in this category try to overproduce their music. I use the word “overproduce” with a neutral connotation. Everything I described in this article can almost be said about many popular bands that consider themselves dream pop. If this album did not directly inspire art of similar sound, it undoubtedly set the stage for a new rise in dream pop to become enjoyed by a more mainstream crowd. It is for this reason that this is recognized as the most important release of the 2010s.
“AM” – Arctic Monkeys (Domino Recording Company)
“Skeleton Tree” – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (Bad Seeds Ltd.)
“Salad Days” – Mac DeMarco (Captured Tracks)
“Visions” – Grimes (4AD)
“Chinese Fountain” – The Growlers (Everloving Records)
“To Pimp a Butterfly” – Kendrick Lamar (Top Dawg Entertainment)
“Paper Castles” – Alice Phoebe Lou (Self-Released)
“channel ORANGE” – Frank Ocean (Def Jam Recordings)
“Contra” – Vampire Weekend (XL Recordings)