By Jordan Walsh
It seems like Chayce Halley has just secured his position as the Tampa music scene’s most prized treasure. His debut record Bloom House is a dizzying, tenderly wrought work of experimental pop and an incredible first chapter for this local artist.
Bloom House is a testament to balance—the record teeters perfectly on the line between spectral and earthly, distant and close. Opener “Agoraphobia” is unique and intimate with an intro that sounds like circus music that’s been flattened and softened enough to be warming. The result is a hypnotic and strange kind of tune that allows Bloom House to gently slide itself into gear.
“Wolf” is a perfect follow up to “Agoraphobia.” The song’s distinct transition from a breezy, distant drifter to a much sparser acoustic round is a great example of Halley’s ability to flourish with and without the record’s impressive use of production layers. “Wolf’s” successful and seamless use of this transition works to bring Halley closer in the song’s final moments. This gives the song an element of humanity and personality which sometimes feels drowned out in other dream pop records of this type.
Lyrically, Bloom House comes off like a quaint fever dream. Vibrant and unsettling images are described but not explained, like the strange scene described in “Agoraphobia”—“Bright faces and white lights reflecting in the pale linoleum/ My voice is calling, voices screaming/ Danger in the marketplace.”
In keeping with the sound’s balance between intimacy and outer space level distance, these more opaque illustrations are responses to cheerful specifics (“My little Sophie P. how do you be/ Just a sleepin’ the whole day long?”). Sprinkled throughout are striking one-liners like “Gravity’s” opening couplet—“Nothing is isolated, everything touches you/ Like a cancer or a kiss, who’s to say which?” These clear sentiments help to keep the little world of Bloom House grounded and real while the stranger segments work to keep it fascinating.
Bloom House is anchored by its two most ambitious and successful tracks. The longest songs on the record, “Gravity” and “17,” showcase Chayce Halley’s ability to sustain an engaging tune over a more substantial length of time. These tracks never lose steam, the extended extraterrestrial lullaby of “Gravity” especially thriving with the extra space. “Gravity” and “17” use their time wisely, carving out distinct and unique atmospheres for themselves in their six-plus minutes.
But it’s the closing “(A Round) for Angelina” that makes the biggest impression for Chayce Halley. A spinning daydream of a song, “(A Round) for Angelina” is Bloom House’s crown jewel. Halley’s delicate delivery is calming and sweet—perfect against a track driven by deliberate and colorful synthesizers. “Angelina’s” odd but beautiful descriptions of love bring Bloom House to an end with an understated euphoria.
Bloom House is an incredible debut from this Tampa-based artist, a meticulously crafted project that succeeds in creating a strange and beautiful sonic world. One of the best records of the year so far, Bloom House is the sound of an artist bursting their way to the center of our scene.
Chayce Halley will officially release ‘Bloom House’ on October 23, but it’s available now on Bandcamp.
Jordan Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.