It was fitting that Pip Blom rounded off the campaign for their debut album ‘Boat’ by triumphantly opening Glastonbury’s John Peel Stage in 2019. That record, packed full of breezy grunge-pop anthems with a knack for melody, featured all of the key ingredients needed to seize such a rite of passage moment.
It’s unsurprising, then, that the Amsterdam four-piece are sticking to what they know with their follow-up ‘Welcome Break’. It’s a fitting title given the madness of the last couple of years, even if the name of the record was actually inspired by the unglamorous role that the UK’s motorway service stations play in modern-day tour life.
From the outset, it’s clear that the band haven’t succumbed to the pitfalls that so often surround the all-too-tricky second album hurdle. Instead, Pip Blom have picked up exactly where they left off pre-pandemic, with album opener ‘You Don’t Want This’ a tone-setting statement of intent. The track casts away the gloom by way of a soaring, fuzzy guitar line, even though there’s an undercurrent of youthful melodrama in frontwoman Blom’s sweetened vocals: “Forget all your reasons / Try to figure out what you really want now.”
Just like its predecessor, ‘Welcome Break’ thrives off its simplicity and sense of joyful abandon. Blom has noted in the run-up to the album’s release that the sibling bond between herself and her brother/guitarist Tender is central to their winning formula, and it shows throughout. The pair’s melodic magnetism is ever-present, be it during the effortless, garage rock-tinged ‘12’, which is replete with haunting backing vocals, or the swooning angsty ballad of ‘It Should Have Been Fun’.
A standout moment comes with single ‘Different Tune’, a sparse and striking track that permits Blom’s vocals to shine alone before the emotive instrumentation swells around her. It’s a change of pace that demonstrates the breadth of their songwriting, which isn’t wholly geared towards churning out bright-and-breezy pop – though they can still deliver that in abundance, as is heard, for example, on the airy anthem ‘Keep It Together’. Elsewhere, ‘Trouble In Paradise’ finds the perfect balance between dreamy indie and menacing grunge by tugging on all the heartstrings.
Despite these traces of emotional turmoil, Pip Blom still manage to provide respite from the world’s troubles on ‘Welcome Break’. It’s a record that will become like a familiar friend over repeated listens, and shows how the band have built elegantly on the foundations of their debut, fizzing with self-belief at every turn. Grim service stations will continue to figure in Pip Blom’s touring itinerary for some time to come, but ‘Welcome Break’ should ensure that they’ll at least be en route to many more high-profile festival stages.
Release date: November 12
Record label: Heavenly