Self-titled debut EP from atmos bloom makes me long for the summer that never was. It epitomises the many lockdown daydreams I had of wandering with friends through sun-soaked parks and whiling away hazy days at back-garden barbecues. From the opening sound of blackbirds calling on first track ‘just another day’, to the muted cries of a gull on closer ‘salts’, the EP is as much a collection of painted scenes as it is one of brilliant dream-pop. Listening to each song feels like walking through an impressionistic oil painting from one of the old Parisian masters, evoking soft pastel hues with a palette composed of dreamy guitars, expansive drums and gossamer vocals.
Stand-out track ‘blueberry eyes’ is easily the most immediate of the four. A bassline, which on first listen is reminiscent of Alt-J’s ‘Breezeblocks’, leads the way into three minutes of delicately crafted vocal hooks and reverb-drenched summer sounds. Imagine an indie summer anthem captured through the nostalgic sepia tones of a polaroid camera. Memories of a festival season long ago, or indeed, dreams of the summer that could have been. Like the best authors, the songwriting is simplistic and accessible, allowing your mind to get lost amongst the notes and words. Equally, however, the songs never lack character of their own. The penultimate track ‘hide’ compliments subtle synths with playful vocals, positioning itself between the more relaxed sounds of 90’s shoegazers Slowdive, and the sun-worshipping of contemporary dream and indie pop bands such as Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Beach Fossils.
atmos bloom isn’t your average one-dimensional summer indie debut though. Whilst much of the sonic qualities of the EP do lean on that well-explored sound, it still has the power to take that aesthetic elsewhere. In an instant you can be transported from a July beach scene to a crisp autumn morning – in one, notes tumble down as dry leaves and vocals hang and shift like warm breath on a cool breeze. Amongst the subtlety of vocalist Tilda Gratton’s melodies, and the non-capitalised titles of the songs and band name, lies deliberate musicality. Perfectly balanced echo on ‘blueberry eyes’ and soft harmonies on final track ‘salts’ display genuine talent between the duo, and I have no doubt that this project could truly bloom in the future as songwriting styles develop and become bolder. For now we can only guess at what a live show might look like, but the prospect is incredibly exciting nevertheless.
The EP is at once nostalgic, hopeful, reverb-drenched, sun-soaked, clinical yet warm, visual, visceral, easing, ethereal, colourful, bright, contemplative, introverted, explorative and rich. If you’re looking for music to soundtrack the huge social and political upheavals of 2020, look elsewhere. If you seek songs to blast at full volume at the first post-corona party, then you’re in the wrong place. But if what you need is serene escapism (and don’t we all right now), then look no further than atmos bloom.