Beach House: Bloom (Sub Pop)

The praise for Beach House's stunning fourth album, Bloom, is nearly (and deservedly) unanimous, but the consensus adjectives surrounding the album—gauzy, spacey, dreamy—obscure its true aural feats: an unexpected fullness and muscularity.

Devotion, the duo's sophomore release, was fetching and lively, but its dawdling, anemic melodies fatigued; though follow-up Teen Dream had the accomplished sprawl and allure of top-notch atmospheric pop, it also felt occasionally overlong.

Bloom, however, is a revelation. Victoria Legrand's vocals balance fragility and brawniness so entrancingly that the strengths of the music seem an embarrassment of riches. Opener "Myth" unspools its keyboard passages in mesmeric washes; "Wild" pulls stadium synth sparkles through darker passages; and "The Hours" rolls gorgeously along the pulses of its strutting melodies.

Lyrically, Legrand is laconically exacting in a way that, were there less poetry and musical prowess, would almost sound scientific. The psychedelic sunbursts of "New Year" make her throaty declarations ("I keep these promises") sound dire, while the wheezing beauty of "Lazuli" is gamely matched by Legrand's oceanic incantations.

Everything from the frenzied, distant guitar drone late in "Wild" to the transition from a meandering jangle to a cosmic waltz in "On the Sea" enthralls with the urgency of a group at the height of their powers.

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