It has been a year since the band formerly known as The Beautiful Word last set foot on stage, but in that year they’ve not been idle. Now, as Bloom, they have a focus and drive to their sound that is clearly the work of much dedicated rehearsal. Having shed the twee folky vibes of their previous incarnation, Bloom encompasses the best of 80s-laced art pop – with just a hint of the weird.
The band opens with an immediately catchy and groovy number, prefaced by singer Megan’s admission that she’s terrified. If she is then there is little sign of it now, as the band clearly enjoy finally being back on stage. ‘Tiny’ follows, a mellow offering highlighting the smooth harmonies that have always exemplified the band. By the third song everyone in the sweltering audience is enthralled.
Though musically coherent as a unit, each member of the band is distinctly audible. The drums, frequently syncopated, provide a reliable foundation on which the rest of the band is built. The bass effortlessly bounces along to them, making it evident that this rhythm section has been playing together for a long time. The reverb-heavy guitar remains tasteful and is never overbearing, and guitarist Tom’s soft backing vocals are almost as sweet as those of lead singers Megan and Emily. The latter two accompany their dynamic singing with synth and acoustic guitar, giving the whole a rich sound that has just the right amount going on without being too busy.
The band play effortlessly, bouncing around with big grins and providing amusing banter in between songs. Shrouded in blue and green light, with a backdrop of home-made, light-sensitive models of neurons, projections of cells and brains and who knows what else, they deliver an up-beat and driving rendition of Depeche Mode’s ‘New Life’, before finishing the set with the driving yet tuneful ‘Such a Shame’.
Bloom have completed their successful rebirth, though it was not entirely planned. This time last year, Megan’s voice was getting worse and worse. Diagnosed with a vocal cyst and then operated on, she couldn’t talk, let alone sing, for a long period of time. This resting period however allowed the band to grow and mature. The Beautiful Word had always appeared unsure about what genre they wanted to fit in and both Emily and Megan had their individual songwriting styles. As Bloom they have achieved an unambiguous sound, the distinction between the songwriters gone. They now write as a band – as one.