Moving from lads with guitars to serious introspective songwriters
Emma Edwards
11:31 29th April 2022

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Stockport’s finest five-piece have returned with their fourth studio album. Recharged after a long lockdown of self-reflection, Ribbon Around The Bomb offers a change of direction as the groups sound matures from ‘lads with guitars’ to ‘serious introspective songwriters’ whilst still serving infectious pop hooks. The glistening pop record is produced by James Skelly and revolves around the protagonist of the writer, offering vulnerable and contemplative song-writing that seals their longevity.

The album opens with ‘The Writers Theme’ and after a couple of seconds one thing is evident; this record marks change of direction for the quintet. The cinematic prologue smoothly transitions into ‘Ode To NYC’, a heart-warming love letter to the Big Apple which features some stellar chord progressions and namedrops several famous landmarks. Title track ‘Ribbon Around The Bomb’ is an upbeat, catchy, dancey track lending into the 70’s pop style. The inspiration for the name derives from a Frida Kahlo painting Ogden saw when visiting Mexico.  

Next the autobiographical ‘The Sulking Poet’ introduces the album’s central character, the writer, who Ogden has revealed is based on himself. He recalls his childhood in this reflective and personal offering, and what’s a Blossoms release without a catchy chorus? ‘la-la-la-Juliet’ has been playing in a loop inside my head for days now. ‘Born Wild’ is an exceptional track offering an important discussion of male mental health and the isolation and stigma surrounding the topic. Standout lyrics include “I watched the night fall from my mind’s window” and “the pain crawls up through the cracks in the floor”. Tom’s soothing vocals are elevated by Smiths style guitar and some soaring harmonies in the chorus. The overall message of the song is about finding self-love in time, things end with a spine-tingling outro making for a truly special moment on the record.

‘The Writer’ is a sonically stripped back and simple story written in ‘chapters’, recalling Costello’s ‘Every Day I Write The Book’.  A slowly strummed acoustic guitar intro gives way to poetic lyrics about a vagabond author dealing with writer’s block. ‘Everything About You’ offers a cheery opening and lovey lyrics whilst ‘Care For’ is a disco-inspired instant Blossoms classic. Sentimental ‘Cinerama Holy Days’ offers some of the finest vivid lyrical storytelling on the album, reflecting on youth in a nostalgic summery pop masterpiece.

Perhaps the gloomiest moment is ‘Edith Machinist’. We travel “down the back streets of my faded dreams” in a vivid, violin saturated single. ‘Visions’ is seven minutes of outstanding lyrical storytelling on the passage of time. Ogden delivers a yearning reflection on childhood, exploring the journey from drinking as a teenager to numb the pain to being “complete at 23”. Half way through there is an excellent violin breakdown before everything kicks in again and the distorted instrumentals provide a goosebump inducing grand finale. The epilogue ‘The Last Chapter’ goes full circle using dramatic piano to close the album on a theatrical note.

‘Ribbon Around The Bomb’ is a grand coming-of-age record. Featuring tight rhythms, compelling pop melodies and thoughtful lyrics, Blossoms signature chiming electric sound has developed in this mature record that puts song-writing at the forefront and solidifies their position as UK indie-pop icons. 

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