Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Beach House - Bloom

Album review by Stephen Wake


Bloom by Beach House or The (Bad) Science of Dreampop

Hypothesis

Listening to the album 'Bloom' by Baltimore dreampop duo Beach House will result in a better sleep and pleasant dreams.

Method

A single subject (the author) case control study with the subject acting as their own control.

A free smartphone app which when the phone is placed under the subjects pillow uses the phones in built accelerometer to determine nocturnal movement and provide an analysis of the subjects sleep pattern into three stages either awake, asleep or deeply asleep.

The study was conducted over three consecutive night's sleep with the subject going to bed the first two nights as normal without listening to any dreampop.

On the third experimental night the subject lies in bed in the dark and listened to 'Bloom' from start to finish prior to the evening’s sleep.

Each morning following the two control nights and the experimental night the following were recorded.

Time of retiring and time of waking (i.e. total time in bed)
Total time asleep
Total time in deep sleep
The number of periods awake
Any dream activity

The results of the control nights were averaged for comparison to the experimental dream pop night.

Results

Control NightsDream Pop
Total bed time hours7.58
Hours Asleep56
Hours of Deep Sleep24
Awake Periods21
DreamsNoneNone

Discussion and Analysis

Whilst at first glance it appears that listening to 'Bloom' by Beach House just prior to sleeping resulted in better sleep in all areas analysed i.e. hours asleep, hours of deep sleep and awake periods. The limited number of subjects tested, the fact that I used a crummy smartphone app and extrinsic factors beyond the control of the investigator (i.e. my wife’s snoring and our two dogs fighting each other over who gets to sleep on the bed with us) does not allow us to conclude with any confidence that the dream pop of Beach House results in better sleep or sweeter dreams.

What can be confidently said is that when I listened to 'Bloom' during daylight hours, Victoria Legrand’s floating vocals and the album's dreamy synth and keyboard tended to fade away into the back of my consciousness making it difficult to stay focussed on the music to the exclusion of everything else going on around me. Whilst listening late in the evening without distraction allowed me to hear the individual nuances of each track and appreciate the beauty of 'Bloom' in its entirety without distraction.

There are some beautiful songs on 'Bloom'. The album opener 'Myth' draws me in everytime I hear it on the radio and I love the upbeat feel of 'Lazuli' and the simple tempo of 'Other People'. Each track is wonderful in its own right, but when listened to in its entirety the album tends to merge into one and drift away.

To fully appreciate 'Bloom' you’d be best off in front of a warm fire with the drink of your choice, the lights off and maybe a light rain on a tin roof. Anything more would be just too distracting.

Also lying on my pillow with earbuds in hurts my ears.



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