The beloved Stockport group's fourth album trades in a little trademark gloss for more tangible textures
Many try, but few groups of friends take likely lad charm and earnest songwriting to the heights that Stockport’s Blossoms have reached in recent years. Even before frontman Tom Ogden greeted us with “Hello hello” on opener ‘Charlemagne’, their 2016 self-titled debut introduced the quartet’s eagle-eyed attention to catchy hooks, lead by synths so shiny they reflected Ogden’s melodies. Catch these hooks did, reaching No.1 in the albums chart and earning a place on the Mercury Prize shortlist.
Maintaining that hype is no easy task, and yet here Blossoms are, with each release that followed equalling the stature of its predecessor. Their fourth full-length, Ribbon Around The Bomb, now looks likely to peak the charts once more.
Strings that sound lifted from a black-and-white Hollywood classic gently lift the lights on the touching folk-shuffle ‘Ode to NYC’, making it clear that Blossoms are welcoming a new chapter. Most obviously, the synth-lines that used to lead the dance circle now step back into a rhythmic role, letting real strings steal the show on the likes of ‘Care For’, ‘Visions’ and the nostalgic title track.
There are a lot more acoustic guitars here too, and the album’s stripped-back mid-point ‘The Writer’ certainly typifies the character of Ogden’s songwriting. But this newfound space allows a new range of textures to cut through, an intimacy that would have been harder to maintain via the dance-ready production of Blossoms’ previous work. Most of all, it treats the introspection that inspires Ribbon Around The Bomb, as Ogden wonders “Was I complete at 23?”, with the attention it deserves.
Ribbon Around The Bomb is out now on Universal. Catch Blossoms on tour throughout May and June – tickets available here.