RÜFÜS: Bloom

Scott Wallace
20th Jan 2016

When the euphoric four-to-the-floor house beat kicks in on "Brighter," the opening track on RÜFÜS' second album Bloom, it almost feels like an interruption to the gospel-style vocals and wash of rain sounds that open the track. However, when the chorus hits a moment later, everything is right once again, as the song's gentle keys and warm ambience fold perfectly into the band's rapturous dance sound. Immediately, it becomes apparent that this second album from the Sydney band is a more focused and mature effort than their chart-topping 2013 debut Atlas.

Bloom finds RÜFÜS playing with texture and tone more than before. The bedrock of their sound is still house-style beats and pulsating bass, but textures of guitars, keys and vocals creep in around the edges, making for more fully formed songs. At its best, such as the soaring, sparkling and tender "Like an Animal," Bloom contains luscious, R&B-scented pop that, due to its combinations of sticky hooks and detailed sonics sounds timeless and eminently likeable.

RÜFÜS aren't breaking any new ground here - their sound is very much in line in current trends in dance music that made stars of themselves and contemporaries like UK duo Disclosure - but Bloom plays like a cohesive and thought-out album. Where on the band's previous releases Tyrone Lindqvist's lead vocals often verged on sounding faceless, here he is an ear-catching presence, his soulful and smooth vocals full of feeling and nuance.

The ten-minute closing track "Innerbloom" is the best example of Lindqvist's evolution as a frontman. The suite-like track is an impressionistic epic, by turns atmospheric and rapturous. In the song's gorgeous closing minutes, Lindqvist sings "If you want me / If you need me / I'm yours," a simple sentiment but delivered with enormous gravitas. "Innerbloom" illustrates what is possibly RÜFÜS' best asset: their ability to marry the gut level pull of dance beats with a real, beating heart.

The thumping beats that run trough Bloom often make the songs flow together so that sometimes individual moments fail to stand out, but RÜFÜS were smart enough to place tracks like the reverb-drenched, guitar laced "Daylight" and the delicate "Hypnotised" in the centre of the record to allow the album room to breathe and right its momentum. Elsewhere, the restless pitter-patter of the glowing "Until the Sun Needs to Rise" provides an antidote for the more radio-oriented fare like "Be with You," which, compared to the rest of the album, feels stale.

Surprisingly for dance music, and from a band who has made their name playing to enormous festival crowds, Bloom feels intimate and heartfelt, like a mix CD received from a friend. RÜFÜS have tapped into a sound that is at once both emotional and physical, a sublime (if not perfect) distillation of the irresistible energy that has allowed them to dominate both on-stage and on record.

Bloom is out on CD and digital formats on Friday January 22.