DISTANCE is one of the recurring themes on RÜFÜS' second album Bloom.
It's not particularly surprising: Bloom arrives after the Sydney electronic trio lapped the globe several times touring their debut album Atlas.
Atlas saw singer Tyrone Lindqvist and band mates James Hunt and Jon George top the ARIA album chart and seduce radio and TV with singles Sundream, Take Me and Tonight.
Their global popularity saw RÜFÜS follow Atlas to various territories, including America where they're known as RÜFÜS DU SOL due to a name clash.
So where better to work on songs inspired by being away from loved ones than by decamping to Berlin for two months.
“Musically, there are soo many people out there right now that make us want to keep working, from Tame Impala, Maribou State, George FitzGerald, David August,” explains James Hunt (drums).
"Subconsciously a lot of the artists we were listening to had really slow, patient (song) structures," Hunt says. "They were not trying to make it necessarily radio friendly or digestible, but you could sink into it if you wanted to."
Bloom is an album that rewards repeat listens - filled with hooks but also buried treasures (try it in headphones) and a flowing structure that starts on a high before a woozy comedown.
"The album definitely progresses into a darker side," Hunt says. "We love when albums take you on a journey. This album takes a turn you don't expect, and it's something people might not expect after hearing the early singles (You Were Right and Like an Animal)."
Flaunting their imperfections was another theme that kept coming up during the recording process that saw them work with a Sydney gospel choir to inject instant soul into several songs, as well as a duet with Jon George’s girlfriend, Dena Amy on Hypnotise.
``We were writing feelings more than songs," Hunt says. "We're very feelings-driven.
"We were listening to The Avalanches' album (Since I Left You), and Daydream in Blue by i-Monster, these samples that were wonky and warbly. So we'd cut up our own samples and make them sound all dusty.
"We wanted to embrace the looseness and also the sense of space. We were ready to cut a lot of the parts or elements to make sure there was this sense of exercising restraint, allowing things to explode when they need to, you don't want everything to sound big. If something goes down to almost nothing it makes the high points sound 20 times higher. And if you over-think something it can kill the spark sometimes."
While making the album the trio found themselves dipping other mediums, filling their screen savers with underwater photography of animals.
"That inspired the production, in some abstract way," Hunt says. "You get that feeling of floating underwater, the way water is darker the deeper you get."
A bit of aqua-Googling later, they fell down an online sinkhole that told them a group of jellyfish is called a 'bloom' - and the trio found their album title.
"The double meaning for Bloom is perfect, things that can grow and flourish and open up over time," Hunt says.
Each track on the album has a working title named after an animal - from yellow fin tuna to seahorse, chameleon to ocelot, vulture to komodo dragon, octopus to flounder, from the Irukandji jellyfish and the mysterious xanthareel.
The album's epic near-title track Innerbloom had the working title Alligator - in a lovely subversive moment after its pre-album digital release the 9 minute 40 second track even made an impressive debut on the ARIA singles chart.
"We'd been inspired by Tame Impala getting Let It Happen on the radio," Hunt says.
"We wanted to make this super-indulgent track, something we'd want to hear while we were out in Berlin at the club. That was one of the quickest songs to be written for the album, weirdly, we had a lot of clarity in what we wanted to get out of it, the lyrics came straight away."
Innerbloom's lyrics are their most personal yet, culminating in the honest refrain 'If you want me, if you need me, I'm yours.'
"It's the feeling of letting go, no inhibitions," Hunt says. "That song and that message felt like the heart of the record. We'd been travelling so much, so coming back to friends or relationships, there's inhibitions. That process of coming back into your normal life, the feeling of decompression. That became a recurring theme, even though we didn't notice it at the time. There's that central binding factor to something after a period of distance."
Bloom's insanely catchy first single You Were Right has already won an ARIA for Best Dance Release, as well as giving them their highest chart position to date.
"That was a very cool moment," Hunt says of the ARIA win over the likes of Flight Facilities, Peking Duk and Alison Wonderland. "Every other nominee is killing it. The Australian electronic music scene is extremely healthy right now, and it's more than an honour to just be a part of that. And it speaks volumes that a lot of these artists are also killing it overseas. Australia has certainly been recognised overseas for its electronic music."
Bloom will continue to spread the word for quality Australian electronic music, their popularity meaning they've been upgraded to a simultaneous global release.
"The last thing we were thinking about was any possible attention for this album, here or internationally, we were just trying to make something we love," Hunt says. "We don't really try to write hits, just songs we love."