blossoms - charlemagne

Kenalyn Ang

Blossoms are a ‘mosaic five piece’ formed in 2013. Their latest four track album Charlemagne is a glittering example of such a description. After receiving much praise for their EP Blown Rose, Charlemagne seems to stand as a celebration of their recent and ongoing success. 

With synthetic pings and an immediate, upbeat funk, Charlemagne is dashing, a sparkling chandelier and product of the group’s energy and enthusiasm as a result of their increasing popularity and acclaim. The title track is incredibly catchy and quick, reminding the listener of both indie and 80’s pop. The lyrics are repetitive, with vocalist Tom Ogden singing phrases such as “hello, hello” and “My Charlemagne” every few counts of eight, but the as a whole, the lyrics are still poetic. In fact, the repetition doesn't annoy thanks to the swift pace and infectiously happy instrumentals playing out alongside the words. Phrases such as ‘mars, tried, hide, cried, died’ rhyme and blend smoothly, maintaining the quick pace of the song, flowing like the river which Ogden cites at the beginning of the song. There is a constant and distant echo behind each song that seems to enlarge Blossoms’ music, further enhancing the optimistic quality of the entire album and inviting an image of a pipe organ in an old church or chapel to enter the listener’s head. Listeners might even be able to see a stained glass window, lavishly glowing alongside the vibrant tunes. 

To contrast this antiquated and historical image, there is a certain quality in Ogden’s voice, the accentuations and tone he incorporates that reminds the listener of more modern pop such as what may be heard in Michael Jackson’s Chicago. The bouncing, electronic synths throughout, can also be compared to those evident in songs such as Spandau Ballet’s Gold and Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. While maintaining an agreeable temperament and tone, the third track Polka Dot Bones is slyer than the previous two tracks, as Ogden features more of the guitar and strings out vibrating chords and attributes to the indie pop characteristic of the album. But perhaps this is appropriate, for Ogden seems to sing to his love named ‘Crystal’, who he is ‘on a restless ride’ with. For Evelyn slows down significantly, as he now sings to an ‘Evelyn’. “Etch your name in blue glass”, he says, further supporting the twinkling crystal imagery encouraged by the entire album.

The seemingly unrelated stories of each track allude to different women, but perhaps this can be related to the album’s title Charlemagne and the actual historical figure King Charles I of the Franks. Known as Charlemagne, this king had over ten wives and concubines, thus the multiple references for different women Blossoms incorporate into their album is fitting. Additionally, with specific word and name choice such as ‘Crystal’, and ‘blue glass’, themes such as kingdoms being reigned, imagery of an old chapel with stained glass windows, stone interiors, and a large pipe organ, and finally the pervasive twinkle and chiming sound quality throughout the album, Blossoms create in Charlemagne an sophisticated and fun work. Listeners may find historical connotations enmeshed throughout the entire album, but Blossoms is able to keep it light and colourful. Check them out this March, as they come to Edinburgh and play live at The Liquid Room!