There are perhaps parallels to be made between Blossoms and the indie survivors knocking about at Reading Festival yesterday. Both The Wombats and Two Door Cinema Club pulled sizeable crowds despite being a decade down the line from their big breakouts at the height of indie-pop mania in the late ‘00s. The Stockport five-piece came in too late for tha, but they still landed a genuine hit single in ‘Charlemagne’ on their hands in 2015; they’re now a year removed from album three, ‘Foolish Loving Spaces’, and heading towards new material.
They’re also progressing into a more grown-up phase of their career, their music far more stylish and well-rounded than the race-to-the-finish indie bangers that made up their first two albums. If they end up in The Wombats and TDCC’s position – chugging along, giving people the hits and sneaking in new material where they can – then that’s a real success, but you sense more to come and a ceiling to bust through.
Blossoms dig deep for a set that’s got the odds stacked against them. They were a last-minute addition to the bill when Machine Gun Kelly pulled out last week, and are victims of the festival’s double main stage set-up; it’s tricky to build an atmosphere worthy of such a large stage as it is, least not for the near-majority of the bill. But they play valiantly; ‘The Keeper’, a piano-lead soft-rave groover, builds with precision, bolstered by their eight-piece set-up, featuring percussionists, extra guitar players and more effortlessly good vibes.
New song ‘Care For’ is yet another example of how musically fulfilled they are; there’s a swelling string riff, disco-tinged beat and a gooey Bee Gees melody. Even when they throw in snatches of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Miss You’, they’re doing it for anyone other than themselves. They oblige the crowd with hits like ‘Charlemagne’ and ‘At Most A Kiss’, turbo-charged by frontman Tom Ogden’s showmanship and the band’s refined ability.
It’d be harsh to brand today’s performance a fork-in-the-road moment for where they see their career going – this is a fine set on the main stage of a festival and not to be sniffed at. But they are subliminally showing us which direction they’re leaning in with each and every show: a more satisfying one than what came before.
– Check back at NME all weekend for more reviews, news, interviews, photos and more from Reading & Leeds 2021