Off Bloom is In Bloom

By Linda “Ayaba” Arowolo

To me, the word bloom is about beauty, a moment in time when a person is thriving – much like the arresting appearance of a flower in season. It is maybe why the band name Off Bloom is so striking; it feels like a conscious decision to embody the opposite of flourishment. Mette Mortensen, one of the producers and vocalist of Off Bloom, views it as more complex: “the personal experiences – the people in my life, the ups and downs of being a ‘grown up’ and being a woman. At the moment I think a lot about the silent riot. What it means to riot without constantly blasting your riot out on the internet. The beauty in the small things in your everyday life. That’s what I think a lot about.” 

Being Off Bloom, in all of its emotional volatility, is what actually leads to being In Bloom.

As of 2020, Off Bloom includes the duo producers Mads Christensen and Mette Mortensen. Their sound has been described as alternative pop, alternative/indie or, electric pop, but I prefer the term constructed pop. There isn’t this over-pretentious attempt to be anti-establishment,  to go against the norm. But Off Bloom also doesn’t follow the usual formula of pop music. Their music is thoughtful,explores the experience of being human and connecting with people intimately. Off Bloom is a way to document the artists’ living memory and daily lives – they just so happen to label it as pop. 

For Mette Mortensen, “there is always a red threat in our music even though we work within a lot of different genres! There will always be an element of contrast which I think defines us in many ways. We definitely use music as a place of reflection and as [an] outlet for whatever we are feeling at that time”. Their latest album, In Bloom, released in 2021, illustrates Off Bloom’s red thread. It reveals the imbalances of human emotions, exploring the highs and lows of triumph, toxicity, self-awareness and growth. Songs that take you on a rollercoaster, where at some points you’ve mourned so deeply, it’s physically felt and then you laugh randomly because it’s funny too, but you remember again and feel numb reminiscing. ‘Polaroid Picture’ encapsulates the album’s complexity. The message of the story is that “I’m burning some ’cause I’ll be fine.” You may feel like you’re in a chokehold of emotional instability. But, somehow, you are still exactly where you need to be. And instead of rushing to heal by forgetting, you sit and overcome the difficult emotions.

Off Bloom refuses to adopt a self-righteous take on what is ‘true art’ to dismiss the rest of us as brainwashed. There is an honest acknowledgement of the artists that influence them. The shiny polished pop stars such as Beyonce, Rihanna and Britney or even Future are equally valid as Bowie, the German Krautrock, the Glasgow crew LuckyMe and newcomers bbybites. This may be why Off Bloom’s perspective on their style is one of “colliding Worlds.” Their sound is still pop, but with a twist: radical honesty. Think of ‘What We Do’, another song on their latest album, and one that definitely does not let your body stay still. The lyrics “fuck with the high life // fuck with the lowlifes” are not delving into anything particularly profound but retain a depth in their blunt honesty. The texture of Mettes’s voice – a silkiness coupled with her raspy voice that sounds like someone that smokes a pack of cigarettes a day – accompanies these lyrics, and grounds them. Off Bloom’s album tells us that there isn’t anything original about how we live our lives – and at times, you’ve just got to give yourself up, and dance to the beat of the mundane. 

‘Wild Love’ tells a common story of love unrestrained. It’s beautiful, honest and transparent. Again, OFF Bloom is not trying to produce this deep, profound song where ‘Wild Love’ is a metaphor for some great awakening of humanity. It’s just a song that lets you know  “Babe I’m in love with you, Cause you take me higher, I think that I needed you, Cause you give me wild love”

‘Are you feeling it too’, certainly has to be a fan favourite. This song’s tempo is more upbeat than some other tracks on In Bloom. It’s a song that describes the feeling of being over your feelings; “over stressing about that weakness, that makes you act really stupid.” We often reach breaking points where we wonder if we’re the only ones feeling this too. It’s too intense to be one-sided and that is what the song embraces.

Overall, In Bloom can be viewed as an interrogation of the basic human experience, our struggle to live in a world losing its subtle distinctions. It leaves you with questions, some even provided in its song titles – ‘Am I Insane? Are You Feeling It Too?’ Off Bloom skillfully navigates the emotions, internal debates, as well as our responses and riots against events in our society. They lead us to our moments of bloom. You may not have overcome it or even understand what it means for you and the environment around you, but you’re here, okay? Listen to In Bloomhere.