Beach House has been making the same album over and over since 2006, and each time they get a bit better at it. “Bloom” is the third iteration of their self-titled record. Immediately recognizable from the first moments of “Myth” is the group’s signature melancholia. They do a fantastic job of creating an immersive atmosphere, one that is enjoyable and easy to get lost in. However, there isn’t a moment’s rest from the sleepy air, and suddenly the songs are audible molasses. This isn’t helped by the downhill trend in quality of the songs and Legrand’s mild vocal cadence. Frankly, the album is far too safe and familiar. The instruments are not so much deliberate as they are timid, and the vocals never attempt anything to seize attention. Not only is its depression overwhelming, but it is difficult to hold back the yawns. “Bloom” has the qualities of a lullaby.
While most of this record is slow, it is not without exceptional moments. “Myth” has stylish guitar flourishes and is an all-around quality song that stands out from the ones following it. “Wild” ends in a seamless fusion of the vocals and synth and “New Year” is plain catchy. The rest of “Bloom” is a different story. “The Hours” has choppy vocal delivery, “Wishes” is just a long and pointless buildup, and “Other People” is the kind of song that might as well end after the first chorus. Even after multiple listens, few of the tracks distinguish themselves in memory. Needless to say, these songs are all tedious listens and sound too similar. “Lazuli”, an equally dull song, goes nowhere for three minutes and then leaves us with a two-minute broken record of an outro. Over repetition makes another appearance in the final track, “Irene”. Halfway through a song with an excellent melody, everything cuts except a droning synth and guitar. Next, the layers are brought back at an excruciatingly slow pace that is enough to botch the song’s climax. Then, after minutes of silence, a hidden track meanders its way to the album’s close.
The Shoegaze genre faded from existence for a reason; people get bored easily. Beach House cannot expect to make the same songs and hold the twenty-first century listener’s attention. Unless they make some major changes to their sound, their following won’t be getting much larger.
Album Review by Zach Norton, January 2017