Andrew Reynolds (Balacade) is a daydreamer. He dreams of going back in time. He dreams of the future. He dreams of fame. He dreams of love. In Bloom is a vignette of all of these dreams, hazy around its edges due to Reynolds’ hoarse voice but its centre, the lyrics and pop style, is crystal clear. The record is not “another broken teenage dream” as Reynolds sings in “Familiar Scenes” but a complete vision.
Sonically, Balacade is hard to pin down. At times In Bloom sounds like something from a 90s alt-rock band (even its title seems to be a nod to the Nirvana song), at others, a 70s folk-rock band. While at other times it is very much a product of today, marked by the industrious DIY habits of contemporary (really) independent musicians and the anxieties that plague millennials. And in some songs all three sounds work together for particularly blissful moments.
Opener “Marquee Moon” is exactly one of these amalgamating moments. At its beginning, “Marquee Moon” transfixes with its simple and steady pop rhythm that caters to Reynolds 20-something anxieties – “I’ve only got 12 more payments before I’ve got hundreds more,” he sings. As the song progresses, Reynolds gracefully enters new heights with a harmonica melody reminiscent of decades past.
Diving in further, the playful balance Balacade strikes between past and present becomes more clear as he jumps decades under his steady pop makeup. In the opening lyric from the standout and most bubbly “Stripmall in the Sun,” Reynolds admits, “I was meant to be lost in the 70’s living in Topanga Canyon with you.” Echoing his yearning to go to the musician and hippie-haven, in “Roseville” Reynolds sings of growing up in the Michigan town in 1973. In “Movie Script Ending” (a nice reference to Death Cab For Cutie), a now 90s-era Reynolds is listening to his walkman and “thinking of a sunset sound.”
Fittingly, In Bloom ends with “A Dream.” Strung together by a contrastingly lighthearted keyboard melody, Reynolds confesses to being sometimes lost in his self-made darkness and fears his love is not real but his premonitions of a future alone seem to be for nothing because “just like that it was all a dream.”
“Will they play my record? Will I be a star?” asks Reynolds in the final line of “Strangers.” In Bloom might just be the ticket.
Top Tracks: “Marquee Moon” ; “Stripmall in the Sun”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)