When there are literally millions of songs available at your fingertips, there is an unquestionable comfort in not having to choose. Much like some can find comfort in the scheduled programming of terrestrial television, hitting the shuffle button on your music app to dive into your preferred songs can be a calming adventure, as can allowing those tracks to provide an algorithmic set of suggestions. It’s fair to say Blossoms, and their latest record Ribbon Around the Bomb fits neatly into the nook.
Beginning with ‘The Writer’s Theme’, a Desert Island Discs adjacent jaunt into the past only cements the foundations of the record we’re about to hear. Ignoring the fact that the album’s instrumental beginning, there is something somewhat self-important from the very off and titling that track ‘The Writer’s Theme’ only does more damage. As the L-Train of ‘Ode to New York City’ begins chugging away to start the LP in earnest, there is a palpable sense of warm pop-tinged indie comfort.
That theme continues throughout the album’s 37-minute run time. The Stockport lads have certainly matured over recent years, and there is a tangible sense of the band now reflecting on themselves as songwriters beyond a rabble-rousing gang of musicians that most groups begin as. The production is polished but not over-layered, allowing the potency of Tom Ogden’s lyrics to permeate the dosed-up pop tunes. James Skelly and Richard Turvey operate as the producers for this album, and it shines brightly.
Touching on a whole dump truck full of musical genres, from the Beatles-esque ‘Ribbon Around the Bomb’, which deals with the idea of garnishing the dark world around us, to the devilishly disco-flecked ‘Care For’ and all the way back to the Johnny Marr-inspired intricacies of ‘Born Wild’, the album is packed with nods to the past and a hint at the band’s future.
In that instance, there can be no doubt that this will be the album that pushes Blossoms into a brand new level of widespread adoration. However, this is where the main sticking point of the record arises. Ignoring the general joyfulness of the album and still doffing our caps to the group’s ability to write a good tune, there is something incredibly uninspiring about the LP.
There’s a lot to like about portraying an album that represents the ideals and inspirations of the entire band, but Ribbon Around the Bomb sounds like so many different artists at once it feels like an algorithmic orgasm. An AI composite of the last 50 years of British music would sound something very similar to this record. From Ogden’s Jake Bugg inspired vocal ( a geographical hazard), the Marr-esque guitar work, the clear Paul McCartney fan club moments, all the way through to the deliberately festival-targeted singalong of the Frida Kahlo-inspired title track.
Ribbon Around the Bomb is not a bad album by any stretch. It has steering wheel finger tapping written all over it. Lyrically, it is some of Ogden’s best work, and musically, the songs are clean and well put together, bouncing happily down the airwaves. The record will likely take the number one spot next week, will undoubtedly be a triumph for any Blossoms fan out there, and, most likely, become this year’s go-to Christmas present for anyone who listens to Radio X in the mornings. The group are far better than being the go-to band for Spotify’s follow-on playlist creators, though, and should be doing everything in their power to avoid such a tag with future releases.
When the music world is there for the taking for a band willing to push themselves into the visceral realms of living we seem to be constricted to in 2022; there’s something incredibly disappointing about sounding like everybody else.