Thomas Cohen - Bloom Forever

by Rob Taylor Rating:10 Release Date:2016-05-06
In April 2014, Peaches Geldof, Thomas Cohen’s partner and mother of their two children, Astala and Phaedra, died of a heroin overdose. Contriving the same fate as her mother, Paula Yates, this heartbreaking self-fulfilled prophesy became a tabloid feeding frenzy, but for present purposes, it’s important to remember what an awful event it was for Thomas Cohen, aged only 24 at the time, and his children aged 2 and 3.
 
Bloom [and] Forever are the two middle names of the youngest child, Phaedra, and the album itself Bloom Forever and the songs therein are Cohen's means of coming to terms with Peaches Geldof's death.
 
Cohen is the former front man of S.C.U.M whose only album from 2011, Again Into Eyes was a campy blast of new-wave electro-sleaze presaging the resurgent interest in shoegaze in the last couple of years. A young man ahead of his time then, leading from the front.
 
Bloom Forever however comes after a lay-off and the disbanding of S.C.U.M, and was said to be influenced by Cohen digesting the best of history’s soul-searching songwriters, musicians like Townes Van Zandt and Judee Sill. It bears no resemblance to the music of S.C.U.M, or Van Zandt and Sill for that matter. 
 
Bloom Forever instead is an accomplished and very mature collection of exquisite chamber pop, brimming with pretty melodies, lovely instrumental reveries and excellent arrangements. ‘’Aint Gonna Be No Rain’ should, by rights, become a song for this age, an instant classic. A hook as sharp as anything I’ve heard this year. And, the voice, an instrument that combines the mature ‘crooner’ like qualities of Richard Hawley, and the yearning leggero tenor of Morrissey.
 
In wrestling his demons in such a demonstratively positive way; in laying out such beautifully sculptured sounds, and for not choking on some well-deserved melancholia, he has proven, to me at least, that he is a young man of considerable emotional fortitude. Sure, the tracks are not bright and happy, they couldn’t be considering the subject matter, and the interjections of howling saxophone on ‘Honeymoon’ for instance hint at emotional unease, but elsewhere there is ample hope embodied in the musical text, and even in the lyrical one.
 
On ‘New Morning Comes’ he calls upon his lost soulmate to give him comfort as he faces the challenge of an uncertain future.... "though the sun is still shining/even though its cold/don’t have to let it shine/let it fall into the night/sing to me/one last time/into the night be the light that shines through the window as the new morning comes/will it be you that holds my hand as the sea becomes the storm"
 
Elsewhere Cohen recalls the horror of discovering Geldof’s body (‘Country Home’) the music flowing with gentle balladry before the idealised recollections of the perfect family give way to the shocking revelation of her death, represented here by a sharply introduced ensemble chorus.
 
Bloom Forever is a lovely album, that may well of served as a catharsis for Cohen, but we’re all the better for him having shared it with us.
 
An award of 10 for a musician talented beyond his years who has something special to say, something with real feeling, something with real poignancy. Bloom Forever is one of those albums in my assessment. 

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