In an age when the future of British stadium-rock quivers on the pedestal set by Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys, few look to break through and challenge the status quo. Catfish and the Bottlemen released their sophomore effort earlier this year and began to prove their worth on a bigger stage. Wolf Alice too have begun to breakthrough into deeper waters and now Blossoms act as the latest addition.
Blossoms emerged in 2014 with their single, ‘You Pulled A Gun On Me’. It was a statement of intent for the future as they wrapped their Northern aesthetics within an 80s styled synthpop-come-psychedelia gown. It became a unique sound that put together the pop-sensibility of Arctic Monkeys’ AM with tinges of Apex Twin electronics and Haitian Carnival percussion. They have an ability to jam anthemic choruses into their songs – something that other artists have often struggled to do; the likes of ‘Charlemagne’ and ‘At Most A Kiss’ being two prime examples of this. So at a time when punters are complaining about the same old names headlining the big festivals, should Eavis and co be turning their heads to Blossoms in the future?
A large chunk of the album has been released previously by the group and this is something that is becoming a trend in common day with the likes of Spring King and Circa Waves also succumbing to the same procedures. From these tracks though, Blossoms dictated to a swelling fanbase that they are worthy of all the hype they have been given.
Opening the album is the euphoric bliss of ‘Charlemagne’, a track that is so self-assured, with its jangling synth demonstrating how to splice together a hook and melody into a unified beast. Frontman, Tom Ogden, pushes his vocals to harmonise perfectly with this synth and this is something that becomes a solidified method within the pulsating opening few songs. ‘At Most A Kiss’ follows the same procedure as the opening couple of tracks, setting an incredibly high bar for the rest of the album. ‘At Most A Kiss’ brings about a sound that points to Kasabian for influence – its clunky baritone guitar part is reminiscent of ‘Shoot The Runner’ with the way it contrasts the higher pitch of the synth and Ogden’s vocals.
The album slows slightly as it falls upon the pop-hit of ‘Getaway’. It turns down the beer-swigging rock’n’roll vibe that the group found at the beginning of the album. This nosedive allows Blossoms to find their more sensitive side on the album. Unfortunately it suggests Ogden isn’t quite the wordsmith his other contemporaries are as he falls upon lyrical cliche: “Get over you / Get under me / This is the last time / Don’t say it’s the last time.”
Nevertheless it proves that Blossoms are a fully fledged assault on a chart malaise that currently struggles around our American allies. ‘Getaway’ and ‘Honey Sweet’ prove that Blossoms are a breath of fresh air that not only captures the Liam Gallagher slur but also The 1975’s understanding of pop and how to break the British charts. They emerge as a band that have a large crossover appeal, something that will surely let them flourish in the future.
‘Onto Her Bed’ is a misty calming of the excitement, it gives you a chance to reflect upon the previous four tracks. It divides the songs that are already known from those that are not. ’Texia’ allows Ogden to find his most Turner-like croon, his accent cuts through the entire song so much so that it could be an additional song on AM if you put obnoxiousness and hair balm in the mix. Credit is due here though as they find a different angle to project their sound from. It finds a slight ska-sounding guitar cutting upwards on the offbeat. The euphoric synth takes the forefront through the backend of the song with Human League-sounding stabs.
‘Blown Rose’ moves beneath jangle-pop electronic textures as Ogden howls about the stately homes of England. ‘Smashed Pianos’ continues to tamper with the euphoria that Blossoms frequently try to set, it acts as a 4am groover with a slight hip-hop feel. It allows bassist, Charlie Salt, to demonstrate his talent more than elsewhere on the record. The humongous bass brings in glimmers of Rick James with a dense gouge in the song setting a sexy undertone.
As we hit the tail end of the album, Blossoms revert back to their previously-released singles once more. ‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed’ begins proceedings with a take on psychedelia that would have Kevin Parker wince in glee due to the tooth-rotting sweetness embedded within the riff. Similarly it allows for a guitar solo that is seldom found within the album.
‘My Favourite Room’ introduces an acoustic guitar for the first time; it is a new delicacy that conflicts the 100mph joy that races through the first nine tracks. It certainly isn’t the strongest song on the album, suggesting that Blossoms are more comfortable with the larger sounds. The acoustic guitar may find strength in the future for Blossoms, for now though at least it shows they have additional tricks under their magician’s hat and are willing to experiment.
The band throw back to their 2014 single, ‘Blow’, as we hit the tail end. Placed at eleventh on the album, it misses that same monstrosity that their later singles encapsulate and perhaps suggests the group are making up the numbers on the album with its addition. It doesn’t necessarily add to the album as it proves nothing more than a reminder that the group are much better nowadays. ‘Deep Grass’ is a hazy end and brings about a sound not too far from their North-West allies, The Coral. It is lethargic psychedelia that swims around swampy rhythm sections and opiate synthesised sounds. It’s a sleepy end to an album that was exhausting fun throughout.
If this is the future of British stadium-rock, Glastonbury should look much more optimistic in a couple of years as the paranoid mind of Muse (hopefully) depart for good. Ogden and co have released an almost flawless album; TV commercials will have a collection of songs to pull on in the future, as will Radio 1 and big name promoters. With support slots alongside the likes of Kasabian, The Coral and The Stone Roses already achieved, the group are embedding themselves within the right circles and it won’t be long until they are headlining those events themselves.