Never mind Cool Like You, this album could have been titled Festival Season Soundtrack Volume 2018. Destined to be heard on main stages all across the globe this year, it is a big, bold, shiny pop album that will likely take the Stockport lads to even greater heights than their self-titled chart-topping debut album of 2016. Forget all the ‘difficult-second-album’ rumours, definitely forget that contrived media ‘spat’ between frontman and lyricist Tom Ogden and drummer Joe Donovan. This is the real deal.
It takes all of about three seconds of opener ‘There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)’ to recognise this as a Blossoms record – a point of definition that you couldn’t make with their peers. The upbeat, catchy-as-hell synth melody present here is already destined to be soundtracking a Match Of The Day goal of the month competition, and along with early single ‘I Can’t Stand It’ shows that a Blossoms sound has been found. It is still distinctively the ‘Charlemagne’ band, but there is a huge leap forwards in confidence and in craft. The driving beat and funky bassline of the latter is indicative of the 1980s vibes that are seemingly ever-present with indie-pop bands at present – it sometimes feels that even 80s bands didn’t ever sound as closely tied to that era as the hottest bands of the current scene do. Another surprising correlation is with Future Islands – the title track here and ‘How Long Will This Last?’ share much in common with the Baltimore band musically (with the notable exception of the vocals obviously).
As well as in the production values and musicianship, there is also a growing maturity in Ogden’s lyrics. No longer afraid of clarity or hiding behind metaphors, here he is open with his feelings and as often happens, the personal touch makes it more universal. Themes emerge of insecurities and emotional wobbles caused doubtlessly by life on the road, while ‘Unfaithful’ hints at infidelity (or at least the fear of it). There are plenty of quirks in the language in his lyrics that lend it a real personality, and make it a much more rewarding listen than their debut. However, while Ogden may be the literal face of the band, for me the heroes of Cool Like You are bassist Charlie Salt and keyboardist Myles Kellock with their combination of a funky rhythm and soaring synths.
The music media often has an insatiable desire to pigeonhole groups as ‘the next big Northern indie rock band’, but the fine work of Salt and Kellock show that this simply isn’t the case with Blossoms. Cool Like You is a glorious pop album, plain and simple – think New Order rather than The Courteeners (though perhaps The Killers are a more apt reference point, at times you can certainly picture Ogden in an electric pink jacket). It is almost totally upbeat in style and sound with a couple of notable exceptions in ‘Stranger Still’ and ‘Giving Up The Ghost’ – the former in particular is sure to have the twinkly lights sparkling at a venue near you still. I had always sat on the fence when it came to my feelings on Blossoms previously but, by the close of the Yazoo-esque ‘Love Talk’, I had clambered down and was having a party on their side. I have a feeling that many more who will have doubted their longevity are sure to be doing the same very soon.