Bloom – Beach House (review)

Bloom suffers from (among other things) a strange approach to the production where nothing is allowed to come to the fore, resulting in gusts of miasmic vagueness. Without any focus, this attempt at producing atmospheric ‘dream pop’ only manages to create a catatonic state where distant sighs blow past without recognition on a breeze of indifference. The ethereal voice, which is overly reliant on the echo technique to achieve its gossamer-like texture, hangs around unheeded like the pleas of an exhausted loved one in the ears of a smacked-out addict. It neither rallies nor stirs, and is forgettable at best. With effort, some discernible layers of production can be found in the muddled mix but these sound like they’re being played in on a well-worn cassette.

With no peaks or troughs, most – if not all – of the songs pass by in a daze. At least Bloom maintains consistency, even if it is through its concerted lack of range from start to finish. There are songs somewhere in the mix but any attempt to raise the power level of delivery and emotion to drag them from their cotton-wool coma and present them as anything other than afterthoughts appears to have been stunted by the limitations of the voice effect. That no song stands up to be counted isn’t helped by the fact that many of the melodies are forgettable. One indistinguishable cloud of intangible daintiness follows another; the chintzy synths and breathy vocals often combining in a ghostly mess which makes “Enya” sound like Lemmy from Motorhead. The overall effect is soporific and not in a good way, like a dollar store relaxation tape filled with computerized dolphins. If a burst of whale song had drifted in or some pan pipes had been added there would have been little surprise. And no song made after 1985 should ever try and revive Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” like opening track “Myth,” even if it does sound like a ketamine-induced homage and certainly not when it’s done in the irony-free (and purely unintentional) way Beach House have achieved it.

There are hints of something more engaging on “New Year” which offers some welcome diversity in melody; a combination of pitch-perfect and discordant chord changes which catch the attention but it is yet another song which has the potential to fly but has had its wings clipped by the production. To release Victoria Legrand’s voice from its electronic cage at this point could have led to some stadium-filling grandeur. Instead, it remains locked in the constraints of its echo chamber and only merely hints at its potential power.

Even a change in pace could have lifted Bloom above the vacuous but the tempo is hardly ever altered and when things do speed up slightly it is only a marginal gear shift. It hardly ever picks up above swirly, the aural equivalent of watching a willowy girl in a flimsy dress dance in slow motion through dirty sunglasses. Beach House does Beach House very well and they are certainly in a category of one when it comes to their style of ethereal pop (which may or may not be a blessing, depending on your outlook). However, it is far too uninspiring. Lightweight can be fine. Whimsical sometimes has its place. But the lack of any kind of bark or bite meant that Bloom passed this writer by, leaving nothing more indelible than the slight irritation of an affectionate lick from an arthritic toothless cat.

Commendations

Not much. If you want dream pop, skip this and buy some Chapterhouse, Pale Saints or Slowdive.

Next Steps

Grow a set, perhaps?

Published first on: Puluche.com

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