2.5 stars (out of 4)
On their fourth studio album, "Bloom" (Sub Pop), Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally re-team with producer/engineer Chris Coady, who gave their 2010 breakthrough album, "Teen Dream," an epic and more unified scope missing from their earlier releases.
"Bloom" doesn't significantly alter the duo's approach: shivering slide guitars, shimmering keyboards, muted percussion, Legrand's disembodied voice floating in a thick haze of wordless backing harmonies. It's an intoxicating sound, the equivalent of riding on a slow-motion merry-go-round. Yes, you're going around in circles, but it's all so lovely and lulling that you hardly notice, especially on the lullabye "Wishes," the gentle ebb-and-surge of "Myth" and the satin rapture of "Lazuli."
Legrand straddles disappointment and longing in her lyrics, her voice strangely undisturbed by it all – she sounds melancholy but not devastated, evoking the deadpan style of Nico or Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval. It's all about gauzy texture, with some shape and definition provided by Scally's melodic guitar fills.
The surprises wear thin, and the middle portion of the album sags. One senses that now that Legrand and Scally have found their comfort zone, they're reluctant to move out of it. Songs such as "Other People," "The Hours" and "Troublemaker" unwind with a pleasant inevitability. It adds up to an album that presents a fluffier version of an already pillow-soft sound.