Monday, July 9, 2012

Spectrum Culture Feature: Best Albums of 2012 [so far]

As part of the Spectrum Culture staff I was recently asked to vote in the site's half-year best albums poll. Head here to read the results. And below find my contribution to the feature, a capsule review of Beach House's new record, Bloom.

Beach House - Bloom (Sub Pop)

On the page, Beach House’s artistic evolution can read as incremental, even imperceptible—there’s only so many ways one can verbally dress up a rather elemental mix of slide guitar sustain, keyboard ambiance, and skipping, mostly synthetic percussion. In execution, however, the amount of ground the duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have covered over the last half-decade is vast, the hazy, earthbound horizon’s conjured by their self-titled debut seemingly galaxies away from the robust, celestial starbursts emanating from the tactile surfaces of Bloom, their fourth and best album thus far. It isn’t simply a matter of increased production value—though the widescreen expanse of Bloom does swallow the homemade dioramas of their early work whole—but also in confidence and songwriting acumen. Legrand and Scally have always possessed an uncanny ability to summon organic, sepia-toned hues by simply engaging in an instrumental dialog, but they’ve grown increasingly assured in their melodic and thematic engagement in the process, resulting in three dimensional landscapes of a sort most dream-pop bands never directly traverse, their heads either lost in the clouds or their eyes so firmly fixed on their shoes to ever notice the opportunity. Overflowing with richly textured detail—from the hypnotizing opening keyboard volley of “Myth” to majestic wordless refrain of “Lazuli” to the locked groove climax of “Irene”—Bloom captures Beach House at their creative peak, perfecting a formula that is once and for all without peer. [SC]

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