Blossoms – Ribbon Around the Bomb
It was surrealist André Breton that famously described Frida Kahlo’s art as “a ribbon around a bomb”. When visiting Kahlo’s New Mexico house himself, Blossom frontman Tom Ogden was struck by this remark. His interpretation of both the art and Breton’s words as the disguising of something ugly, a form of deception that we are all guilty of and vulnerable to, inspired an album.
Not forgetting three EPs, this is the fourth studio album from the Stockport born quintet since their break in 2016, and they have accumulated an astonishing following. For listeners who have stuck around since the early days of Charlemagne, Ribbon Around the Bomb is unmistakably stripped-down, uncladding itself of the dazzling synthetics of their earlier brit-pop-indie-rock gallivants. Ogden also created an album character, The Writer, inspired by Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me, but inevitably, as Ogden writes, this character morphs into a reflection of himself.
The album’s matured tone is the combined result of simpler instrumentation and the sentimentalism of younger selves. Ode to NYC innocently chugs along, reeling off the city’s charms with an excitable flip-book approach. The sun shines on in the jangling Everything About You and Sulking Poet, with its almost ditsy tapping rhythm and floating aphorisms on life as a “ship you sail”. Born Wild’s nostalgia comes instead from deeper, dusty vocals and Johnny Marr-type guitar, and of course, the title of the song immediately evokes a certain Americana tinge.
Care For is reserved for the disco. It’s a love song that risks flying away into mushy realms, but this track isn’t the only one. Visions closes the record with acoustic and violin melodising, animating old memories and sensations of self into a present reflection. “Was I complete at 23?” encapsulates Ogden’s hardship, reaching high success at a ripe age and wondering where to go from there. The track doesn’t expand dramatically, even at seven minutes, but it’s a self-accepting, levelled ride instead.
Ribbon Around the Bomb is a loaded title, but the angle taken by Blossoms on how it has resonated with them is far from heavy. Some tracks are luke-warm, as is hard to avoid when happiness and love are central themes. However, a mellowed sound offers space for their introspections to settle, and mainly, be enjoyed, for this album is light and affectionate, loving to both its listeners and its creators.
Ribbon Around the Bomb is released on 29th April 2022. For further information or to order the album visit Blossoms’ website here. The album is available in Hi-Res on Qobuz and all the major streaming services.
Watch the video for the single Ribbon Around the Bomb here: