With 12 tracks showcasing as many styles, as a debut this was never going to work.
After a range of anticipatory accolades including a fourth-place finish in the BBC’s Sound Of 2016 poll, Manchester indie rock quintet Blossoms is certainly one of the most exciting bands to watch for the year ahead, however their self-titled debut album misses the mark as they appear to still be trying to find their true sound.
Leading off with ‘Charlemagne’ sees Blossoms putting its best foot forward. Its synth elements work fantastically well amongst the mixture of booming guitar riffs and Tom Ogden’s Britpop-esque vocals. The styling, however, gradually changes as you move through the track listing. Recent single ‘At Most A Kiss’ grasps hold of these synth ideas with an introduction that worthy of a great indie rock song, yet it loses all hope of being a hit just 15 seconds in. With consistently flat vocals that get lost amongst the guitars, particularly in the chorus, succeeding only in making the song utterly boring to listen to, it brings the record right back down to earth from the lofty expectations it carries.
The influence of the 1980s is very prevalent throughout Blossoms, with ‘Honey Sweet’ and ‘Blown Rose’ – which does so less obviously and with a backing reminiscent of ‘There She Goes’ by The La’s – bringing a nostalgic synthetic backing into the present day in a fashion that worked so well on HAIM’s revelation Days Are Gone. ‘Deep Grass’ extends this vibe with a strongly alternative and ambient mixture of sounds that prove to be very relaxing, featuring a verse that is effectively rapped, demonstrating another skill in Blossoms’ already burgeoning repertoire. They even briefly explore the 1990s too, as ‘Smashed Pianos’ stars iconic pop punk quirks through its intro to create an intriguing sound similar to David Bowie’s Major Tom phase, where he was arguably at his best.
Other sections drop the synth sprinkles in an attempt to take the band back to either a pop core or a stripped-back foundation. ‘Getaway’ sounds like a completely different band, more closely resembling a rocky take on ‘Good Grief‘ by Bastille than anything else on the album. Even more bizarre outliers are ‘Onto Her Bed’ and ‘My Favourite Room’: the latter is purely acoustic, and the former features demonic harmonies from a solitary piano, wrapping up with an utterly indescribable outro that, despite being a novel effect with which to end the song, is very out of place.
In Blossoms‘ more electric moments, their more contemporary influences are evident. ‘Texia”s overarching fast-beating piano feels very much like the tones used in Foster The People’s 2009 bow Torches, whilst ‘Cut Me And I’ll Bleed’ has remarkable similarities to Coldplay’s ‘Adventure Of A Lifetime.’ The result of bringing these grooves to Ogden’s distinctive voice? Quite a bit like Catfish And The Bottlemen.
Whilst trying to display the band’s ‘unique’ styling through different genres, Blossoms ultimately becomes a smörgåsbord of pseudo-covers with Ogden’s voice layered over ever so familiar backings. Never have I listened to an album which experiments with so many different musical styles are explored, and this variety of guides simply doesn’t result in its 12 tracks fitting into anything cohesive. If Blossoms can knuckle down to focus on one sound, perhaps then they can live up to the hype and be worthy of our attention.
Blossoms is out now via Virgin EMI