REVIEW: Chayce Halley - Bloom House

Raquel Dalarossa

There’s not much information to be found on Chayce Halley. He only first appeared this past August on Bandcamp with a three-song teaser of a full-length album to come, and his Facebook page remains, relatively speaking, rather undisturbed. All we can say for certain about Halley is that he’s from Tampa, Florida, and he makes amazing music.

Bloom House is Halley’s debut album, and it’s as vibrant and gorgeous as its title would suggest. For a first release, without even so much as an EP for warm-up, Bloom House is also remarkably even-keeled, which makes us ever more curious as to what Halley’s musical background might entail. He blends tightly-crafted pop melodies with lush, freak-folk elements, forming sonic landscapes as vividly weird as lucid dreams—think The Shins dropped into a Michel Gondry film. Bloom House’s first single, “Ulysses,” boasts all these elements and more; it’s an addictive tune that combines stomping, industrial percussion with light, acoustic guitar strumming, among a bevy of additional instrumental and electronic flourishes. Halley enjoys playing with sound through his lyrics, weaving the words into the very fabric of the music with lines like “Out of earshot or maybe they’re sealed shut to what I say.”

Most of the nine songs found here put these same basic tools to use: subtle layering of instruments (“Agoraphobia,” for example, manages to submerge us into a watery world with its bubbling background), highly phonetic lyricism, and smart repetition. Halley has a knack for building upon repeated sequences, fleshing them out with care so that every little change becomes intriguing. Certain songs are nursed for a long while before they evolve into something new entirely; “Wolf” goes from a drowsy, sort of amorphous thing to a bright, acoustic guitar-driven ditty, with the two parts connected mainly by Halley’s repeated crooning of the lyrics “Maybe it’s moonlight, moonshine / I eat the flesh, I leave the rest.”

Other tracks go through several small evolutions without ever losing their way—the nearly eight-minute-long “17” is a prime example of Halley’s careful but free-flowing craftsmanship. All of the songs are at least three full minutes long and follow a fairly languid pace, but they catch your attention and tend to keep it, like shards of glass glistening against sunlight (“Gravity” and “(A Round For) Angelina” are especially lovely in this sense).

Generally speaking, the tenor and quality of these recordings bring early Panda Bear to mind, and it’s easy to imagine Chayce Halley has the potential to reach the same heights Noah Lennox has. Bloom House’s prevailing sleepiness imparts a distinct, charming character on this body of work that makes it feel cohesive at the same time that it’s somewhat nebulous. It’s an extremely strong first offering from an apparent nobody, though I’m fairly confident he won’t remain under wraps for much longer.