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Album Review: RÜFÜS – Bloom

3 min read

Creating a coherent album is hard. One must first make sure that each element of any given song fits with every other element, then must apply the same process to every single song on the tracklist. They must fit together tonally and stylistically, but not too much lest the album become repetitive. It only takes one misplaced track to derail the momentum of a great record, so many artists find themselves creating intentionally homogenous albums, and it’s this trap that RÜFÜS falls into on Bloom.

Rufus BloomRÜFÜS’ first album was a fairly enjoyable record of chilled-out downtempo dance songs, infused with indie pop vocals and structures, that saw them find a passionate audience at music festivals. Bloom follows largely the same path, blending together the beats of UK garage, the pulsing baselines of trance and Balearic, and the glittery synths of Italo disco. There are some experimental spots on the album (the closer Innerbloom stretches to almost 10 minutes), but the songs largely follow the same template: the verse/chorus structure of pop music, dance breakdowns during the bridges, and mellow chord progressions. It owes a huge debt to other dance artists, particularly Disclosure, but Bloom lacks the dynamism and variety of their contemporaries.

That’s not to say there aren’t fantastic moments on the album, though. The two singles Like an Animal and You Were Right are both ferociously catchy, without abandoning the downtempo melancholy that makes the music distinctive. You Were Right in particular, courts the trends of more mainstream EDM, with the screeching, reverberated synth in the chorus showing what RÜFÜS can accomplish when they’re willing to expand their scope a little. Sweat It Out is also interesting, with a sampled “yeah” ad-lib that gives the track a hip-hop inflection that separates it from the rest of the album. The “I’ll be with you” chorus is delivered through chanting harmonies, instead of the haunting but monotonous tones of vocalist Tyrone Lindqvist, further emphasising the difference. The final track, Innerbloom is the strongest track here, being the only one to dramatically vary the song structure, stretching to 9 and a half minutes, rising and falling, then rising again until it’s stadium sized.

However, in spite of these excellent moments, the album is simply too same-y to maintain interest throughout. The tempo rarely steps more than 5 either side of 120 beats-per-minute, and the chord progressions are almost numbingly similar. Perhaps if the tone wasn’t so centred around a vague loneliness and desire then the consistency wouldn’t be as much of a problem, but as Bloom currently stands, it can sometimes be difficult to tell when one track ends and another begins, and that isn’t by design. There’s some textural variety, with the brighter synths on Innerbloom and You Were Right demonstrate, but even still, they only comprise small moments in larger songs. Whilst the sounds here are impeccably produced, and the melodies are pretty and evocative, RÜFÜS just can’t sustain them over the course of 51 minutes.