Beach House’s third album, Teen Dream, was drowned in praise last decade, sitting pretty at the top of a number of end-of-year lists after its 2008 release – which makes Bloom, the Baltimore duo’s newest offering, one of the year’s most anticipated albums.Wonderland couldn’t help but press the band‘s gifted and mystical chanteuse Victoria LeGrand about it.
Let’s talk about Bloom. How do you feel the album is a transition from Teen Dream. How are the LPs lyrically different from each other?
I think every album we’ve made from the first to the fourth has been a progression, very naturally. Because we got tired of old songs, I think you’re always consciously coming up with melodies or new sets of lyrics. On Bloom, a lot of the changes are a simple result of how we’re more experienced and we’re more perfectionistic [sic] about every sort of element that we do. I think lyrically I always try to make sure that’s happening in lyrics, that there are worlds, colours, feelings, you know, that a listener’s journey is never stifled by something personal or too literal, that it’s just enough.
Do you typically steer clear of listening to too much music or watching too many films – for instance – when songwriting, for fear that it will have too heavy an impact on your creativity?
When it comes to film, we don’t limit ourselves. Films are a great way to escape what you’re doing, just to take a break. But yeah, musically, we have a lot of music that we love that gives us a lot of inspiration emotionally, but we definitely don’t listen to albums while writing or recording thinking, “this is what we want to sound like,” because we’re a song band. I think it’s important in the development of the song not worrying about making it sonically sound like something else. I think that’s really destructive. So yeah, to answer your question, we don’t do too much of that. It happens naturally because the album absolutely consumes you. Once you’re three or four songs in and the size of the record becomes apparent, it starts to consume you and leaves very little time to go somewhere else.
When did you start to play with the word “bloom”?
I love words that encompass a broad spectrum of feelings. Like “Lazuli” is an amazing word – it encompasses for me a great landscape of feeling and colour and intensity, as all of them do in their own way. So Bloom emerged as a title not at the beginning of making the record, but probably more than halfway through because at that point you see the size of the record and you’re tapped into this area of feelings and intensities and dangers and twists and turns and gaps, all kinds of things. When Bloom came to mind and it stayed around and it wouldn’t go away as the title. [It relates to the fact that] things happen in cycles and it’s not the actual moment – it’s the before and ripples. There’s as much about the living as the dying. It’s never just one specific feeling, it’s definitely the spectrum – that’s the idea. It’s supposed to be open. I think we had more song ideas going into this album than any other. The ten that are on there were specifically chosen to be there, you know – there were many other ideas that didn’t make it on the album.
I guess you have to trim it down as much as possible, refine it…
I feel as you go on as an artist and you make more and more work, the process becomes more like that. You consistently want more out of the medium and it’s not just about serving a bunch of filler and having a single. It’s the fact that each song is its own entity.
Words: Jack Mills
Bloom is out in May