Within four short years, U.K. indie band Blossoms went from small-town heroes to festival headliners, coursing a steady trajectory from scrappy kids on the verge to chart-topping grownups. On their third effort, Foolish Loving Spaces, the group shine with a collection of light, poppy confections that focus on love and relationships. With their hearts on their sleeves, they adopt a charming, almost precious style that packs elastic basslines, bright synths, relaxed guitars, and frontman Tom Ogden's sweet, yearning vocals into a brisk, ten-song burst. With longtime producers James Skelly and Rich Turvey, Blossoms improve upon their new wave-inspired sophomore LP Cool Like You and crack open the painfully hip constraints of their breakthrough debut. Foolish Loving Spaces unabashedly embraces the treacle and fuzzy emotions associated with love in its many forms, demonstrating a graceful maturity and comforting confidence in the process. From the peppy opener "If You Think This Is Real Life" to the humorous "Your Girlfriend" -- told from the perspective of a yearning third wheel -- Ogden's storytelling shines here as each song becomes a vignette of a larger narrative that is relatable and unassuming. The band also takes steps into fresh territory, recruiting a gospel choir for "Falling for Someone" and going acoustic for "My Vacant Days." While "The Keeper" is an adorable anthem that pledges devotion "until we're bones," the bittersweet "Romance, Eh?" resigns itself to the highs and lows of relationships. Additional highlights include the jaunty "Sunday Was a Friend of Mine," which echoes early-era Strokes, and the sleek closer "Like Gravity," which is the lone sonic throwback to their older material. While this set is not as immediate as their first two albums, Foolish Loving Spaces winds up being the one that is most rewarding after repeat listens, an enjoyable, nostalgic ode to pure affection. Coolness be damned.
© Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo