Blossoms – Ribbon Around The Bomb

An introspective and emotive offering from the Stockport quintet...

Blossoms are back with their highly-anticipated fourth studio album. Whilst there are still elements of that classic Blossoms sound, sonically they have matured and the production on this album is more stripped back with a focus on more heartfelt and introspective lyrics.

This sonic shift is reflected throughout this new body of work. It would be remiss to classify this as just a ‘coming-of-age record’ but sonically, thematically and narratively, the band are in a different place and this impressive body of work reflects just how far their journey has taken frontman Tom Ogden and his bandmates.

The title track takes inspiration from frontman Tom Ogden’s visit to Frida Kahlo’s house to see her exhibited paintings and the film of the same name. ‘Ribbon Around The Bomb’ is a metaphor and alludes to how people try to dress things up which have an underlying darkness lying beneath them. Things and people can be delicate yet also destructive – sometimes at first glance, things are not what they appear to be. It has a real dancey feel and asks, "Are we one ribbon around the bomb?" The title track is also accompanied by a film which was directed by Arctic Monkeys‘ Creative Director, Edwin Burdis.

Despite the dark connotations, this is largely an uplifting album although it touches on key feelings that we have all experienced. Love, reflection and in the case of ‘The Writer’ deals with the frustration of dealing with writer's block.

Creatives everywhere (including this very reviewer dear reader!) will resonate with this. In fact, Ogden’s perspective as a writer is woven into every song and composition. The album starts and concludes with instrumentation. Kicking off this almost cinematic-like aural experience is ‘The Writer’s Theme’ a lush and atmospheric prologue which really sets the scene of the rest of the album and concludes with the beautiful and evocative ‘The Last Chapter’.

‘Care For’ which was released last year (and was debuted at some of their live performances last summer) is an uplifting track with stirring strings and a disco-inspired riff that talks of learning from your mistakes and how one person (Ogden’s wife) has aided somewhat of a metamorphosis in him. It is an unabashedly gorgeous love song that could have been released by the Bee Gees in the ‘70’s.

‘Ode To NY’ is a love letter to the Big Apple; "Times Square's a kaleidoscope of colour…./ Oh, what a place". It is sure to be a fan favourite at festivals thanks to its catchy refrain and upbeat melody. ‘Born Wild’ is another standout and is a rich, rousing track that is certain to be a track of the summer.

This is a smidge of a new direction for the band, taking inspiration from a variety of genres. There are still smatterings of the Blossoms old sound, but this album which has been produced by the bands long term collaborators James Skelly and Richard Turvey is a different level for the band. You can still see the elements of classic Blossoms records over the last eight years, but you can also hear influences from some of the songwriting greats like Paul Simon, Neil Young, Barry Gibb and other esteemed songwriters.

Endearing, prodigiously rich and ambitious, this might well be their finest body of work to date, and it feels like the album Tom and his bandmates have been itching to make. The band's star continues to rise, and this album cements their reputation as one of the best bands in the UK.

8/10

Words: Emma Harrison

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