When it’s not enjoying an imperial phase, guitar music does well to cosy up to pop. So, in 2016, Catfish do pop with a Liam Gallagher snarl. [a]The 1975[/a] do pop with [a]Tame Impala[/a]’s breadth. [a]Bastille[/a], meanwhile, just do straight-up pop. Enter Stockport five-piece Blossoms – this year’s biggest guitar-pop shooting stars, named after a pub and looking like snake-hipped garage rockers from the wrong side of Scarysex Central – occasionally sounding like Ellie Goulding. Tipped for greatness by the BBC Sound Of 2016 poll, they’re cunningly making a stealth assault on chart territory.
Their debut album opens as radio-friendly as it can be; the irrepressible ‘Charlemagne’ is built around ‘Running Up That Hill’ rhythms, clubland synthpop and a hook worthy of Hall & Oates, A-ha and, yes, The 1975. Over at ‘Getaway’, ‘At Most A Kiss’ and ‘Honey Sweet’, they pay homage to ’80s funk electropop, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, Hurts, The Wombats, Jane Wiedlin and (ahem) The Script. It’s tuneful, romance-based radio pop with slivers of guitar for decoration.
Then something interesting happens. Midway through glacial, nostalgic piano ballad ‘Onto Her Bed’, the song dissolves in a swarm of poltergeist atmospherics before it hits the chorus and Blossoms begin exposing roots, prodding boundaries. ‘Texia’ and ‘Cut Me And I’ll Bleed’ embrace New Order’s murder-on-the-dancefloor aesthetic. ‘Blown Rose’ finds singer Tom Ogden celebrating ‘the stately homes of England’ from amidst a foliage of bristling electro-jangle reminiscent of Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr’s Electronic – at points you can even hear it tipping its ‘Hatful Of Hollow’.
By the end they’re ripping open their disco shirts and beating their hairy indie-rock chests like tight-trousered Tarzans – ‘My Favourite Room’ is their take on the howling-at-mountains acoustic Noelrock of the late ’90s, and ‘Blow’ and ‘Deep Grass’ delve into full-on psychtronic blues scree. Ultimately, Blossoms leap from their chart-bound Trojan horse as modernist rock heroes.