Since their self-titled debut in 2006, Portland duo Beach House have become a band synonymous with the ‘dream-pop’ side of contemporary music, a tag that suitably sums up Beach House’s immaculate sound. This album and the follow-up Devotion were snapshots of a band emerging and evolving, both primitive and delicate in instrumentation and style, from moth to butterfly. By the arrival of their third album Teen Dream, the band developed their sound into a lush, fully-realised scale that deserved the critical plaudits that pushed them into the mainstream.
Metaphorical joking aside, Bloom makes you feel like you’ve spent time in this particular Beach House before. The polished furnishings look familiar, as too the languid crash of waves outside being almost identical to those heard on Teen Dream. You could be allowed to think that Beach House have harnessed and perfected their sound so much that the diamond quality of their songs can’t be improved or enhanced any further without destroying or distancing themselves from all they’ve worked up to. You could think that, sure.
Why they’d not want to slip outside their comfort zone is another thing entirely. Few tracks on Bloom strive to identify themselves beyond the anodyne easy-listening production and performance. It’ s hard to even begin to critique an album that on the whole under-performs. To fault one track would be to fault them all for being indistinguishable from each other. To call it a disappointment should be enough. Let’s just leave at that.
As with any band who releases an album that could be classed as ‘treading water’ or ‘lacking in ideas’, we can only wait and see how Beach House feel about Bloom a year or two down the track when they come to record their next album. I’d be totally surprised if they’d try the same thing again.