Review: Bloom, “Thousand Yard Stare”
Side projects scare me — point blank. I always find myself worrying about how much time and effort one person can really put into their music. Especially when it’s for a band that isn’t necessarily their main focus. With the upcoming release of Thousand Yard Stare, Bloom, is one of few bands to show me that I have no need to worry.
Serving as the more melancholy brainchild of Better Off vocalist, Luke Granered, Bloom feels like a breath of fresh air. I say that without wanting it to sound as cliche as I know it realistically does, but the delivery of this record feels just like that. Vocally, Granered’s performance is noticeably lighter and airier than it has been on anything we’ve heard from him before. Sonically, the album feels incredibly open. Everything works well together and balances out really well, making for music that doesn’t sound cluttered. There is no one instrument that is competing with another for attention. And it’s this attention to detail that will make this record stick with you.
The record starts with 2 AM Breakfast. A 59 second introduction to the album that starts out with a recording of what sounds like a crowded diner and lone vocals. While the track itself is very bare bones on paper, it honestly doesn’t come across that way. The few lyrics the track does have end up making the track feel fuller, more complete. Up next is Blue Valentine. Blue Valentine itself is an incredibly mellow track. It’s a slower song, but by no means is it a slow song (if that makes any sense). The vocals on this track have an incredibly soothing quality to them, even after they pick up at around 1:34 into the track. They eventually taper off into this really cool, fuzzy sounding riff that just carries you through the last minute or so of the track.
The album continues on with Yet. Yet starts out with an incredibly simple riff before it completely transforms at the 22 second mark. The rest of the instruments pick up right around this point and you are immediately thrown into a pop song. Not the kind of pop that makes for radio fodder, but intelligent pop. Imagine a pop song in the vein of Death Cab for Cutie. The kind that has undeniable movability, but lyrics that keep the listener engaged and connected. I’m honestly shocked this song wasn’t released as a single to help promote this record, because it’s probably my favorite on it. The same can be said for Dorm Room.This synth driven track is another one of my favorites, and for all the same reasons. Pop sensibility and personable lyricism. It’s at this point that you realize that crafting intelligent pop music is something that Bloom has down to a simple science.
Lung Cancer is a song that will without a doubt leave its mark on the listener. The track starts out noticeably darker than any of the others leading up to it, giving the first minute or so of the track an eerie, haunting quality. Once that minute or so is up, the music takes a lighter and turn and we’re thrown into a beautiful instrumental piece that carries us right on through to Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City exists as this fuzzy, crunchy sounding riff that’s only enhanced by the quiet, calming vocal delivery that makes this track the perfect transition. This track definitely has all of the qualities of an interlude. There is no real moment that the track picks up or has more energy, but you still want to listen to it completely. Brilliant move on Bloom’s part putting this track where they did.
The brilliance of that song placement really shines once You Can’t Always Be Juggling Blood and Fire All The Time starts. This song was released alongside Lung Cancer and Still as the singles to help build buzz around the record. This track is like something alien. By no means does it hold true to what makes a normal single stick so well, but it somehow manages to creep its way into the corners of your brain and have you singing along. This is one of the moments comparisons to Death Cab for Cutie really shine through. The music is insanely relaxing, and the lyrics are simple enough to be embedded into your memory while still being tangible. They’re simple without being simple.
One of it’s two partners in crime, Still, is one of the more up-tempo songs on the record. This is easily the best of the three singles released for the record. This is mostly due to the fact that is has so much potential to be something that mainstream media would gobble up right now. I mean, if Coldplay can do it, Bloom should have no problem. Now, if only the right people would pay attention.
Then we’re thrown for a loop with Losers. Losers is a song that definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. If this were a novel, I guess we could call comic relief (I’m using this term very loosely, as the song itself isn’t really funny per se). The constant repetition of the line “We sit at the bottom/Like we’re losers” makes up the majority of the song. Musically however, this song is a perfect way to close the record. Thousand Yard Stare was such a cathartic and powerful track that it just wouldn’t have felt right to end there. Luckily, we have losers to sort of lift our spirits before the record comes to a close.
Thousand Yard Stare is a record that needs more attention than it’s going to get. There is so much going for it, whether you’re looking for it or not. The music is fun and movable, and the lyrics are biting and accessible. Bloom has the potential to blow up, and I hope this release at least starts them on their path to success.