Blossoms: Pop Will Eat Itself

Britain’s Blossoms have bloomed on their self-titled debut LP

British quintet Blossoms is unapologetically ambitious. Rather than quietly release 2014 debut single “Blow”—issued on Skeleton Records, owned by the Coral’s James Skelly, who also produced it—the band announced it with an ardent, online manifesto. “We want to be heard by everyone,” it read, in part. “We want to be as mainstream as Will Smith, as great as the Smiths, and as uplifting as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.”

“We thought that since this was our entrance into the world, we should make some bold statements,” says shag-haired frontman Tom Ogden, who simultaneously quit his Stockport hotel job and began touring England to fulfill that prophecy. “It was meant to be a bit tongue in cheek, but we do want to be on the radio. We do want to be big. And I always like a band that has something to say.”

Mission accomplished. Ogden and crew have just issued their self-titled Skelly-helmed debut, which features overseas hits “Charlemagne,” “Getaway,” “Honey Sweet” and “At Most A Kiss,” all heavy on Myles Kellock’s frothy keyboards and rooted in Blossoms’ unusually anachronistic sound: “Call Me”-era Blondie meets vintage Bay City Rollers (Ogden’s sleek vocal style even eerily echoes that outfit’s Les McKeown), all glistening with a sugary Stock/Aitken/Waterman sheen. Ever since he started composing at 15, he’s always been a sucker for a great melody, he explains. While his early efforts smacked of his then-favorite group Oasis, his later songs reflected the music he heard on weekend nightclub forays into nearby Manchester, where he danced to Blondie-retro artists. “And now our music gets played there, in those same clubs,” he says, proudly.

Ogden never planned on a career in music. He always imagined that he’d go to film school and find a job behind the scenes in that industry. But in Stockport, there was nothing to do on weekends but wander the streets and drink, so his fellow members had formed various other bands out of sheer boredom before they agreed to spin off into Blossoms.

“But I think even in the early days, we knew we had something, something a little bit different,” he says. “And because we’d been in other bands, we knew what went wrong in them.”

His songwriting quickly evolved. “Girlfriends would come into the picture,” he says, “and you wrote songs about them—the timing really aligned, because when us five got together, it just worked.”

So far, Ogden has met—and been praised by—personal heroes like Johnny Marr, Ian Brown and Arctic Monkeys mainman Alex Turner. But the latest Blossoms material he’s been demoing sounds even more like Debbie Harry’s classic combo. “Some of the new songs sound almost like ‘Heart Of Glass,’” he admits. “I love Blondie, and I’ve always cited ABBA as a big influence, as well. So we’re about keeping a certain attitude within a great pop song, because there’s a lot of pop music that’s deemed unrespectable or not credible. So we want to keep the balance right between great pop and cool sounds.”

—Tom Lanham