Nancy Heath reviews the unexpected number one album of summer
Blossoms’ self-titled debut album injects a sorely needed burst of new life and radio-friendly fun into the indie music scene. Released on 6th August, the album places the listener in their pop-rock comfort zone before edging them off on experimental tangents.
People first sat up and took notice of the Manchester five-piece when they slouched onto the BBC’s Sound of 2016 longlist and then again when their debut album climbed straight to number one on 12th August, and retained the crown the following week.
Blossoms – named after their local pub – hail from Stockport and look the part of a grunge-ready hipster indie band. Yet the band claim a greater range of influences than we might expect: listing the Beatles as one of their key inspirations along with Oasis, Arctic Monkeys (especially apparent on Texia), the Doors, and ABBA. Their music mixes an authentic dash of the 60s and 80s with a near-constant undercurrent of pop.
The 80s comeback is everywhere at the moment, from fashion and film aesthetics to the soundtrack of Netflix’s breakout hit Stranger Things. Blossoms transports listeners back in time with retro synth and drum arrangements, while holding them steady in the 21st century with catchy top-40-ready lyrics such as in At Most A Kiss. Along with Getaway and Honey Sweet this song creates a trifecta of 80s electro pop with romance fuelled angst delivered through soft pop. The guitars are less focal on these tracks – coming through more as ornamentation to the story of the lyrics.
The band is rightly proud of their synth-pop sound and refuse to shy away from it. The album signals its intent with their Kasabian-esque opener, Charlemagne, a catchy up-tempo tune with a similarly simple but somber tale of a failed relationship.
To me, the most interesting thing about this album is its diversity of influences and the journey it takes you on to travel through them. Blossoms lulls listeners in before introducing atmospheric, almost haunting tones on the piano-based Onto Her Bed. By the time the likes of Deep Grass and Blow roll around, listeners are exposed to electric rock in a way that the opening chords of Charlemagne couldn’t have anticipated.
There’s a maturity to this album often missing from debuts that makes the band stand out in the increasingly saturated indie scene. Blossoms have performed at a number of festivals over the summer from Glastonbury to Kendal Calling, reflecting the broad appeal of their sound.
With such variation it’s hard to anticipate what this band will produce next. The band has high ambitions and nothing on this album should diminish that. Lead singer Tom Ogden, who certainly looks the part of a Dalston hipster, despite hailing from a lesser-celebrated area of Greater Manchester, says that the band has started as they mean to go on.
For now, they’ve certainly cracked the code of making enjoyable music to listen to on long summer days, whilst skating the line between pop and rock. An album that sauntered out of the blue, Blossoms has the capacity to become a modern classic in years to come. A word of advice? Watch this space.