This Stockport, England quintet’s eponymous debut delivers a windfall of sunny synthpop anthems with as much chart-topping potential as dancefloor appeal. The album’s sparkle lies in radio-friendly song structures, cordial vocals, danceable grooves, edgy guitar fills, and dynamic synth leads, but all that glitters is not gold. While these tunes make the perfect soundtrack for a rush hour commute or hurrying across campus, they lose their lustre with repeated listening, as the lyrics mostly fail to provide either memorable hooks or the substance to sustain the emotions they project.
The opening track, “Charlemagne,” establishes the band’s signature vibe, one reminiscent of 80s disco laced with 90s indie rock, and contains fodder for the entire range expressed on the album. “At Most a Kiss” follows suit in forging a blended style of disparate influences, bridging a driving synth sound reminiscent of The Music with a melodic impulse similar to that of The Smiths. Surprisingly, the most idiosyncratic song on the album, “Onto Her Bed,” is also the best song on the album. The stripped bare piano ballad concentrates Tom Ogden’s vocal and lyrical energies within a gently rising storm of atmospheric synths. While these tracks highlight the unique sound that has brought about the quintet’s sugary emergence, an album can only be as good as its lowpoint, and, unfortunately, the bottom drops out on the depthless bubblegum tracks “Getaway,” “Honey Sweet,” and “My Favourite Room,” which work only as exercises in formula pop, but not as genuinely inspired songwriting.
The saving grace, and perhaps a glimpse of a more mature Blossoms, is a pair of Portishead-esque tunes on the latter half of the album, “Smashed Pianos” and the closing track “Deep Grass.” “Smashed Pianos” is sacked by the mechanical lilt of the chorus, but the spooky interplay between bass, synth, and guitar makes for exciting listening, while also allowing the musicians opportunity to stretch their creative legs. Despite the trite rhyming, “Deep Grass” ends the album on a high note, offering listeners a blissful, yet dark, song featuring a raw, emotive guitar lead, cut with futuristic synth tones, and a vocal performance geared less toward pop perfection, but perfectly in touch with the rhythm and melody.
The album MVP is Charlie Salt, the bassist, whose playing is the consistent and lyrical foundation that provides the soloists opportunities to shine. He delves into multiple styles and his always fresh effort is enjoyable across the album, even when the song on the whole is not.
Key Tracks: Charlemagne, Onto Her Bed, Smashed Pianos