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Feature

Blossoms: "The moment you become comfortable, it’s not right"

It would be easy to see Blossoms as just another indie band, but that would be selling them short. Never pausing for breath, new album ‘Foolish Loving Spaces’ is a revelation.
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Published: 11:12 am, January 31, 2020Words: Jamie Muir.
Blossoms: "The moment you become comfortable, it’s not right"

Tom Ogden pauses. That in itself is a rarity, not because of any motormouth tendencies or an alarmingly fidgety demeanour - but more because pausing has never really been in the DNA of Blossoms. Whether it was the early days of kipping in vans outside venues or near-constant touring without any label or industry support or blossoming (yep, we know) into a word of mouth sensation, Blossoms have kicked on with that next step without thinking twice.

Yet, in this moment, as Tom thinks about the big stages not only ahead but those they've witnessed over the past year, there's a chance to pause. "I think with this record, we'll feel, not that we weren't confident before, but we're more ready than ever to be in those scenarios," he states.

It's a line you'd expect to hear from any band as they approach a new album, but none may have the standing to back it up quite like Blossoms. 'Foolish Loving Spaces' lands as their third album in four years, building on the swinging pop heights that first dazzled on their self-titled debut before cracking into the stars covered in synths on 'Cool Like You'. Stockport's favourite sons aren't waiting about for anybody to catch up.

"When we talked about it all, we weren't too sure what we wanted to do," elaborates Tom. "Maybe three smaller albums, we'd written that many songs! It sounds cliche, but things came together really naturally in terms of the songwriting. From travelling, happening to be in places and hearing things and seeing bands, it just gets you thinking in a different way."

Pulling from times spread across a year and a half (even before the release of 'Cool Like You'), it finds Blossoms embracing new influences, styles and sounds. That sentence in itself shouldn't really be a shock. Since the very beginning, they've separated themselves out from the pack with their undeniable ode to the best in pop music, a handbook of classic sounds delivered with a swagger and charm that pulls in all around them.

Best mates that grew up together in the same town, born in the same hospital, went to the same school - there's a constant bond that keeps them moving towards the next landmark. And to throw themselves into every idea. "With this album, it was like going back to how we did it in the early days in a lot of ways," notes Tom. "We could spend more time putting random ideas on it."

Blossoms: "The moment you become comfortable, it’s not right"
"If you want to say ‘I think you’re great’, that’s a bit of a shit song, right?"
Tom Ogden

Heavily inspired by a new-found love of Talking Heads, Tom formed the basis of 'Foolish Loving Spaces' in a tried and tested routine ("wake up in the morning, have a cup of tea, sit down at a guitar or a piano, and it just starts happening"). "There's a definite difference with this record compared to the first two, but that approach to songwriting has stayed the same," he continues. "It was all-natural. None of it was like, 'oh fuck, I need to write a third album, or I need to do this', it was just taking in what was around me.

"In the back of my mind, I always know that you have to challenge yourself as a songwriter. The moment you become comfortable, then it's not right. It can become stale for people."

In a year that has seen Blossoms enter a whole 'nother league, 'Foolish Loving Spaces' is their surround-sound statement of intent. Buzzing off the songs Tom was pulling together; the confidence Blossoms now possess fills an album with lush anthems that could sit in any decade from the 70s to now. A modern cocktail of something classic.

Take 'The Keeper', a gospel-soaked scorcher that practically calls for crowds to get on shoulders with arms in the air. "I remember writing the song at home, and as soon as I had the piano line I knew it was a good song," recalls Tom. "Once we started building it in the rehearsal room, I knew we needed some gospel backing voices."

To layout their intentions, the band recorded the gospel backing voices and included it on the demo. The piano you hear on the track? Also from the demo. The grand piano in their Parr Street recording studio where Chris Martin wrote The Scientist sounded "too good" to use. The overall result is 'Foolish Loving Spaces' in a nutshell. Allowing themselves to try every avenue with stunning results at every turn. "Even though it was the last song written for the album and the last song demoed, it became the theme for the album. A nice accident, really."

Lyrically, 'The Keeper' is a prime indicator for the entire record too. It's simple to say that 'Foolish Loving Spaces' is a positive record, but it's one done through a Blossoms filter - something born out of where Tom now finds himself.

"In the past, I've always written about relationships," delves Tom. "When they've not gone the way you wanted them to and been quite melancholy. When you're in love with someone and things are going great, I've always found it harder to translate that into a song without it sounding cringey. Like, 'There's A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls' you can just say because it sounds good and it's honest, but if you want to say 'I think you're great', that's a bit of a shit song, right?!?! I've thought about it, and it's hard to explain, but I think I've refined the lyrics a bit more to create these love songs."

"It’s not like we’ve gone fucking experimental"
Tom Ogden

Whether it's 'Oh No', 'Romance, Eh' or 'Falling For Someone' - that meld of positive joy with dark lyrics gives a whole new dimension to Blossoms next chapter.

And that's what it is: a fresh new chapter in the story of a band who've single-handily become one of the past decade's true success stories. Creating the sort of music most bands wouldn't even attempt at pushing for, they're the craftsmen needed right about now that follow their own path.

"It's not like we've gone fucking experimental or anything, we've just opened up a new corridor," cracks Tom. "It still sounds like us, but it doesn't sound like anything we've done before. Like putting a slide guitar on 'Your Girlfriend', someone had given us one, so we just started knocking about with it. Those strange sounds you hear on a Talking Heads track, it was like that, so we thought let's try it."

Tom laughs. "You can't really do that on your first album! It's too far, isn't it? Especially as a band who started the old fashioned way, just us five in a room and then more people get involved - it's a bit far to be trying stuff like that. But you naturally grow, and I think that's what we've done, we really buzzed off those moments where we could try those sort of things an add in all these sounds. I'm dead happy with the way the record sounds."
Recording once again with The Coral's James Skelly, ambition rings throughout. The audaciously disco-tised strut and jangles of 'If You Think This Is Real Life' setting a standard that never lets up. If ABBA walked into a David Byrne musical on Broadway with a cocktail in hand, you'd get 'Foolish Loving Spaces'. The idea of welcoming in this new era is something Tom welcomes with relish.

"When we go out live, there's going to be more of us on stage, but I feel like it's giving us a whole new lease of life. Playing Manchester Arena for example but with these big songs with big choruses and that gospel element too - I think they'll marry very nicely.

"Even albums like 'The Joshua Tree' [U2's breakthrough classic in the mid-80s] were very influential in the making of this album and the writing on that. That was very ambitious on their behalf back then, and them songs were made for so many people. That's going to sit really well when we play those arenas."

Blossoms: "The moment you become comfortable, it’s not right"
"We've never been sucked into any sort of bullshit"
Tom Ogden

The step to huge fields and moments is something witnessed first-hand earlier in the year. The small matter of a homecoming stadium show at Stockport County's Edgeley Park understandably a pivotal moment for a group of mates who still live in and around the town. Rather than resting on that moment, Tom sees it as a turning point for the level they now find themselves.

"The sheer scope of it," he ponders. "It was like, right. We're entering this world now, and we don't want to go back. It was a defining moment in our lives and as a band. It was surreal.

"Your ambitions naturally become bigger after something like that. If we never got to that show, and we'd just stayed at The Ritz forever, then we may never have imagined ourselves in those scenarios. It's hard to explain because we never sat down and went right, this is a huge moment for us, and this is what we're going to do after this. It all just goes into you as a person and as a band. It drives us on to do bigger nights, make them even more memorable."

Blossoms are starting a new decade as they mean to go on. There's already recording and work afoot on their fourth album, promising to sound completely different to the way 'Foolish Loving Spaces' sounds ("We already know what we're going to do with it," opens up Tom). It's all a sign of a band driven by the crowds and reaction they've seen and enthralled by the opportunity to push and bend that into whatever they want. Constantly evolving, growing and learning, they have the tools to become that band whose next step is always eagerly waited on. Aiming squarely at more, but with their feet firmly on the ground too.

"We're very comfortable in our own skin, we're still very grounded, and I can only see it staying that way," lays out Tom. "We still live in Stockport, a lot of us have long-term girlfriends and are very close to our families so we know what this is and we know what we want from it. We take it very seriously, but we don't take ourselves too seriously. We've never been sucked into any sort of bullshit. We've never wanted to move down to London or anything, so I think if we were going to get carried away with things it would have already happened to be honest."

Blossoms have their world marked, and an entirely new decade to soundtrack and own. Time to pause? Don't expect that anytime soon.

Taken from the February issue of Dork. Blossoms' album 'Foolish Loving Spaces' is out 31st January.

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