After the radio success of EP’s Charlemagne and At Most a Kiss and after playing The Etihad Stadium with the Stone Roses in June 2016, you knew the Blossoms debut album was nearing its release.
With the constant touring and the continued support from fellow Manchester bands Courteeners and The Charlatans, the Stockport four piece bring one of the best debut albums from the indie rock scene of the last decade.
Their self-titled album mixes Britpop grooves with the wailing riffs of rock powerhouses from years gone by. The musical range that Blossoms cover is one that is normally only seen by bands that have been touring for decades.
Starting with opening track Charlemagne, the jangly beat slowly winds its way into lead singer, Tom Ogden’s, vocals. Allowing time for whining beats and a repetitive tap of the snare drum, Charlemagne kicks into life midway through the song, as it folds back into the comfort of the jangly beats that began the song.
As the end of the tune rolls to a close, it becomes apparent that the signature Blossoms sound is inspired by Britpop beats and modern indie riffs.
Barely allowing time to take in a lot of the opening track, the Stockport band unleash a catchy keyboard section to open second track ‘At Most A Kiss’, before launching into a thunderous riff at the mid-point of the song. Ogden’s vocals link really well with the drumming of Joe Donovan and create a sound that’s not too dissimilar to that of psychedelic indie band The Horrors.
The next tune in the album was released prior to the release of the album and first debuted on BBC Radio 1 by Annie Mac in April 2016.
Getaway is the first track on the album that you start to hear how vulnerable and open Ogden sounds. The frontman singing “I walk myself clean through 70 dream, I broke like a paper seam” and combining with the synthesiser of Myles Kellock to give it more of a pop sound. Building to a chorus, where bass guitarist Charlie Salt and John Dewhurst combine for the first time on this record, Ogden sings ‘You’ve got me chocking up, if we’re in love. Tonight we can getaway’. Sealing it as an indie love song, the song fades out on a repeat of ‘Tonight we can get away’ and the steady beat of Donovan’s drums.
From the indie love song of ‘Getaway’, the mood soon shifts to break-up undertones on ‘Honey Sweet’. As Kellock fires up one of many impressive keyboard pieces on this album, Ogden starts positive with a universal rhetoric of ‘I’m out, will she love me?’ before the gentle sombre acoustic twang of his guitar is twinned with the lyrics ‘Teardrops stain skies of thunder. Autumn pain, change my number’, to make it one of the greatest break songs the genre has seen in some time.
From the album so far, we see the synth infused sound that Blossoms aimed to create on this album and seen Ogden test his vocal range and he’s certainly gone through the range of emotions alongside it. You also start to notice that punchy and repetitive choruses are an integral part of the indie quartet’s signature sound.
The range of songs so far has not really strayed out the comfort zone of the indie genre but this soon changes as the soft piano keys open fifth track ‘Onto Her Bed’. Seemingly giving off the vibe of a singer/songwriter ballad, rather than one of the biggest alternative bands of the year. As the song develops into a beautifully gentle tune, the synth once again features in the closing stages of the song and fuses with the piano perfectly, as a match in melodic heaven is created and is a perfect way to end the tune.
As soon as I began to think this is a turning point for the album, the jangly melodies and the upbeat tempos come back out for mid-album song ‘Texia’. Like most of the album, Texia is covered with synths and relies on the synergy of Ogden’s vocals and Donovan’s drumming to create a scintillating mix of indie pop and new wave psychedelia.
Next track ‘Blown Rose’ was another one of the Stockport bands previously released tunes from an EP. Shouldering most of the percussion on the album, there is also hints of electric guitar, before a heavy riff splits the song into a tame ending. To say Blown Rose was a single that Blossoms thought deserved an EP, it has a relatively tame end and a set of lyrics to match it.
For me, the 8th track on the album signifies a missed opportunity. ‘Smashing Pianos’ is a synth inspired track with Ogden’s lyrics dubbed over the top and while this is all well and good, it adds nothing to the album. Charlemagne brought a level of dance to the album, At Most A Kiss brings the ferociousness to the album but ‘Smashing Pianos’ seems to be there because the indie band ran out of ideas during the demo sessions and struggled to fill the album.
Every album tends to have a weak point in it but for me, ‘Smashing Pianos’ seems the most needless track that I have heard in a while and to feature it on a previously flawless debut album is a missed opportunity and a ‘what might have been’ for the Stockport boys.
The synths, ah the beautiful synths, they have returned and they are a welcome addition to ‘Cut Me And I’ll Bleed’. In ‘Smashing Pianos’, Ogden sounded disillusioned and tired but this 3:20 song is one of the most underrated on the album and for me, it’s a track on the album where every member is evidently featured and works perfectly to form that sound that has been missing for a few songs. The punch of the drums, the whine of the guitar, the stomp of the synth muddle altogether to give that signature Blossoms sound that has made this album one of the greatest debuts in recent times.
Starting up with the potential to be a ballad, it’s evident from the off that ‘My Favourite Room’ is destined to be another one of Ogden’s breakup songs. From the slow acoustic disposition, through to the chorus of ‘When you were mine, you were so kind’, the 10th track on Blossoms seems upbeat from the sounds of the acoustic guitar but with the lyrics having gloomy undertones, ‘My Favourite Room’ manages to combine the two to perfection. I don’t think the sub-genre of happy break up songs will catch on but we will wait and see.
Having to wait 2 years is bad enough for an album but Blossoms had to wait two years to put next song ‘Blow’ on the album. Released in 2014 as their first official single, the standout piece from the song has to be the whine of Josh Dewhurst’s guitar as the song hurtles toward the final few seconds and onto the last track of the album.
We started with a dance infused tune in the form of Charlemagne so it’s only fitting that we end on one. ‘Deep Grass’ has the confidence of Kellock’s synths one last time, as they fit with the catch choruses that Ogden lays down in perfect harmony. For any other indie band, this track would be a hit but for Blossoms and their collection of songs on this debut album, it doesn’t even register as a stand out tune.
As the last beat strikes out on the album, Blossoms comes to an end and with the exception of ‘Smashing Pianos’ and ‘Blown Rose’, the debut album from the four piece was an impressive and no doubt successful album. I can’t wait to hear what else the indie band have to produce in the coming year.