Rufus' 'Bloom' Album review

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In the increasingly competitive field of Aussie electro artists, Sydney trio Rüfüs (known in certain foreign markets as Rüfüs du Sol) have managed to carve out an impressive niche.

Their debut album, 2013’s Atlas, was a massive hit, reaching number one on the ARIA album charts and spawning a succession of excellent groovy singles such as Desert Nights, Take Me and Sundream. It’s no surprise they’ve become one of the country’s most successful recent exports.

To gain inspiration for their sophomore record, Rüfüs decamped to the epicentre of European electronic music — Berlin. It was in the legendary clubs of that city where the group studied the sounds of the likes of Booka Shade and David August.

With Bloom they’ve created a fantastic EDM influenced collection of pop songs, but while their contemporaries are keen on finding new areas and sounds to expand into, Rüfüs are mainly happy to focus on making appealing music for the masses.

They don’t have the grimy abrasion that defines The Presets’ best work or the pulsating highs of Cut/Copy, the swampy mix of disparite influences of Flume, or even the grand orchestral leanings of Flight Facilities — instead Rüfüs blend together the standard formulas of house music with the pop music melody sensibilities. It’s not an original mix, but it’s a very successful one.

It’s hard to poke too many holes in Bloom. Each song is a swimmingly laid-back dance track with a standard verse/chorus construction, a BPM of roughly 120 and a catchy (though not instantly memorable) melody.

The two singles released last year (and recently found places in the upper reaches of Triple J’s hottest 100) are killers.

Like An Animal is a glossy and pulsating EDM pop tune with a gigantic drop that descends into a hectic dance breakdown.

You Were Right is a brilliant dance-floor filler and easily the best song on the album. It mixes the light grooves of sunny Sydney summers with the throbbing house build-ups of a chilly winter safe haven of a German club.

Late album track Until the Sun Needs to Rise is another highlight, utilising the imagery of all night partying with an almost sad and mournful mix of synth melodies. There’s a beautiful drip of melancholia infecting this song as lead singer Tyrone Lindqvist sings of the inevitability of things coming to an end.

If Bloom has a fatal flaw it is its familiarity — the album washes over you with no real intention of shocking you out of a carefully constructed relaxed mood. Lindqvist’s voice is smooth and gentle, his readings of the lyrics consistently inflected with a softly spoken purr. It never sounds like he’s attempting to raise his voice, just simply and comfortably whispering into your ear.

Until the nearly ten minute long album closer Innerbloom there’s precious little innovation attempted — indeed Atlas contained more moments of artistic expression. Sure, there’s a few changes in texture and synth sounds, but basically the tried and true formula is left alone.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for music that falls into the ‘dance’ music category, it’s live where Rüfüs well and truly come into their own. If occasionally on record their sound is slightly homogenised, safe and predictable, live on stage the songs take on another life.

And it’s live where the rationale for Rüfüs’ musical decisions makes sense. These songs are designed to have you on your feet and dancing with a smile on your face trapped in a blissful euphoric mood.

Bloom would be a more impressive artistic feat if the band allowed themselves a little more freedom, and would be more holistic if a little was trimmed off the 51 minute running time, but as an affable, enjoyable and fun record it well and truly hits the mark.

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