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Blossoms - Cool Like You (Album Review)

Thursday, 10 May 2018 Written by Simon Ramsay

Did you hear the one about the band who recorded two versions of their second album, and then released the wrong one?

Blossoms are a curious beast. They sound like a swaggering ‘90s indie band fronted by Alex Turner who have been mysteriously shunted back in time to the ‘80s synth-pop craze. Recalling Tears For Fears, Joy Division, Oasis, New Order, the Killers and even Jean-Michel Jarre, the Stockport outfit’s Mercury nominated debut confidently combined an anachronistic mishmash of eras and styles.

Catapulted into the public consciousness on the back of Charlemagne’s infectious melodic glisten, it was a refreshing bow that didn’t sound like many contemporary acts.

And, using that hit as a blueprint for ‘Cool Like You’, the band haven’t so much doubled as quadrupled down on pop-infused anthemics backed by a ceaseless flow of parping synthesisers.  

Although nothing here matches the calibre of Charlemagne, there are some very good moments. There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls), I Can’t Stand It and the title track burrow into the deepest recesses of one’s brain thanks to synth passages that, by consistently foreshadowing well-penned melodies, make their mainstream-crashing hooks even more memorable.

After the first four tracks, however, the record’s stylistic repetition begins to grate and it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish one song from the next. Blossoms are recycling the same radio-chasing formula and, as a result, ‘Cool Like You’ lacks the variety and subtle shadings their debut sagely employed to counterbalance its up-tempo commercial numbers.

This flaw is compounded by the relentless deployment of limelight-hogging synthesisers. Sure, the Doctor Who spookiness of Unfaithful is wonderful, and they provide nice textural flourishes, but their dominance often distracts from personal lyrics by Tom Ogden that deserve to be presented in a more appropriate manner.

This is glaringly obvious when listening to the deluxe edition of ‘Cool Like You’, which comes with a bonus disc that features a completely stripped back version of the entire album. With acoustic guitars and delicate piano strokes gently backing him, there’s a spaciousness that not only allows Ogden’s storytelling to take centre stage, but also shows that, when their emotional and musical nuances are allowed to breathe, these classy compositions aren’t as stylistically homogeneous as they appear.

The original Stranger Still is promising until it turns into a completely inappropriate clubbing anthem that smothers any discernible lyrical message. By way of contrast, the acoustic rendition is much more fitting for a song that’s achingly vulnerable. Likewise, Giving Up The Ghost’s beautiful piano intro sounds like early Tori Amos and, where the original’s chorus is overly congested, its haunted mellifluousness is hypnotic when pared to the bone.

It would have been smart to incorporate some of those tracks onto the main album, but seeing as almost every sparse rendition is superior to the original, releasing the bonus disc as the main record would have made for a wonderfully surprising artistic statement. Granted, it would have been one hell of a ballsy move, but by chasing their Charlemagne-shaped tail on ‘Cool Like You’ Blossoms have surrendered the authentic creative voice that shone so brightly first time out.

Blossoms Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu May 10 2018 - LONDON O2 Forum Kentish Town
Fri May 11 2018 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
Sat May 12 2018 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Fri June 08 2018 - LIVERPOOL Invisible Wind Factory

Click here to compare & buy Blossoms Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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