I saw Beach House perform the fall after Teen Dream was released. The band wore sweaters and sat between two large silver pyramids. Aside from this, the stage remained dark. As the songs hit their chorus, tiny lights would flutter and twinkle behind them like a star field. It created a mystic atmosphere that encapsulates what it is to listen to any Beach House song. As you listen, you can almost see the stars fluttering.
Their new album, Bloom, opens with its first single, Myth, in a dance of keys with a brooding bass behind them. “Help me today,” Legrand sings. “What comes after this? Momentary bliss. Consequence.” The song becomes elevated by brighter guitar, cleaner drums. There’s a vague surfer like vibe behind it all, and though the name Beach House might suggest that it should be there, on first listen it’s something of a surprise. Later songs like Other People even end in the sounds of the seashore. Seagulls, the ocean air, the wind whipping by.
Each song works in the same space, but they tend to be differentiated by a focus on certain sounds. Lazuli starts with guitar plucks that sound like an eight-bit bleep before exploding into a fullness that surrounds the listener. The Hours has guitar’s groaning like a 90s rock ballad. “Change your mind, don’t care about me,” Legrand sings, “Don’t leave without me.” Much of the lyrics seem to focus on a very specific “I”. The “I” is usually hurting. In Wild we hear that, “Our father won’t come home ‘cus he is seeing double.” It’s a weird knowledge for someone who must be so young. The dreamy escapism of Beach House lends itself to this.
While Legrand’s vocals can be striking, particularly with her deepness, she can be a bit unintelligible, which hurts the lyrical power. The album seems to be strongest during tracks like Wishes, tracks a little further differentiated than everything else. It’s a darker piece that has a bit less dreaminess and a bit more physical presence of Legrand’s voice and the other instruments. At one point the guitar thumps forward and twitches beside her.
Beach House’s shtick, love it or hate it, is in almost every single song here. We get it. There’s moody bass and deep vocals, and as the chorus hits it all rises into sparkles. This album is a lot like Teen Dream, and for many people that’s a good thing to hear. In many ways, it was hardly a surprise when during their performance lights began to twinkle behind them. It’s an image that so clearly manifests itself in their sound, it’s hardly necessary to show it to us.