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On Blossoms’ New Album, Tom Ogden Needed to Lean into the Past to Move Forward

The indie-pop bandleader discusses how creating a character helped shape the group’s latest LP
(Credit: Madeleine Penfold)

When Tom Ogden began writing what would become Blossoms‘ fourth studio album, he was communicating through a character — one he dubbed “the writer.” The lead singer and guitarist was driven by a narrative that wasn’t necessarily centered around him — or so he thought.

But it wasn’t long until Ogden had a realization: the character — the one at the center of the narrative, was in fact himself.

For the past nine years, Ogden had been wrapped up in the whirlwind of being a busy musician: the tours, the planning, two No. 1 albums in the UK with their self-titled debut and Foolish Loving Spaces. In developing the character of “the writer” he realized that he hadn’t had time to actually reflect on the effects of that constant grind.

“I felt like I blinked and got where I was in my career and felt like I should be enjoying it more,” the 27-year-old musician recalls over the phone from London. Blossoms’ latest album, Ribbon Around the Bomb, allowed him to really soak up the whirlwind of experiences that he had.

Near the end of 2019 was when the record began to take shape. At the time, Ogden had been with his now-wife Katie and Blossoms in Mexico City where they had played the Corona Capital Festival. During a visit to Frida Kahlo’s house, he read a description of one of her paintings that stuck with him: “a ribbon around a bomb.”

“That’s where the album starts,” Ogden explains of the experience. The imagery stuck with him — particularly the underlying darkness it evoked — and it ultimately became the title of the band’s new LP. “The bomb is ready to explode with a ribbon on the outside,” he continues. “That’s what I’m thinking when I imagine it.”

After the title was solidified, Ogden sought the guidance of producer James Skelly who helped him develop what would become the tangible character of the record. While Ribbon Around the Bomb was more of a “thematic album” rather than a conceptual one, “the writer” ultimately helped Ogden look inwards while making the record. “In the movie, Stand By Me, the main character at the end when he’s older, he’s called ‘the writer,’ and I just thought, that’s so simple and sums up what I am.” That character not only fueled the crux of the record but the eponymous song as an amalgamation of all of a musician’s biggest fears: writer’s block, imposter syndrome, a deficit of inspiration. “It’s easier to sit around feeling sorry for yourself, not taking action or finishing things, and I think a lot of people can probably relate to that in lockdown,” he says.


It makes sense that 2020 became a period of reflection for him. Ogden, like the rest of the music community, was faced with the pandemic and the financial consequences of not having live music. The band just released their third studio album Foolish Loving Spaces in January 2020 and didn’t get a chance to tour it. It hit him hard, and Ogden was stuck in his thoughts. “To not have anything in the diary going forward, and knowing there’s no live music, it made you feel a bit empty and unmotivated,” he recalls. “It was a shock to the system, really.”

During the pandemic, he penned “Born Wild,” a downtempo Smiths-like track where he tackled the longstanding stereotype that men aren’t supposed to be vulnerable. “I feel so wrong, but boys must be strong,” he laments. He also found himself clinging to escapism. On “Ode to NYC,” which could be a ‘70s-tinged cousin to Taylor Swift’s “London Boy,” he dreamt of his favorite American city and penned a love letter to a place that seemed lightyears away. “Me and my partner Katie, it became like our place and we went every year before the lockdown,” he says of the city.

Despite his ruminations and longing, there were a few moments of joy that seeped into the quintet’s latest album – like getting married. On “Care For” and “Everything About You,” the Blossoms bandleader reminisces about their relationship. Still, Ogden finds himself revisiting history. “Visions,” the penultimate track on the record, shows Ogden contemplating his life at 23 — when he met the love of his life.

With Ribbon Around the Bomb, the indie-pop outfit wanted to add another dimension to the record.

“We’ve looked at bands like Arctic Monkeys who’ve grown and evolved, and you look up to them to emulate what they’ve done in terms of changing the style,” Ogden says. 2018’s Cool Like You, was Talking Heads-inspired and full of synths and their last record featured gospel signers. On Ribbon Around The Bomb, it was the string accompaniments that tied the record together. “We’re always looking for something on each album to take it to a different realm,” he notes.

While Ogden and the group (who will be hitting the road for a pair of dates in the U.S. this summer) are always thinking of ways to gradually grow, they ultimately want longevity — not to necessarily reinvent themselves during each album cycle: “We still feel like we’re scratching the surface.”