Dick’s Picks: Drifting back to the overlooked debut from The Nightblooms

As we start a new year, Dick has gone back to 1992 to take a look at the often overlooked debut album by Dutch alt-rock band, The Nightblooms.

Tell us a bit about them then, Dick

Formed in the late ’80s in Deventer, Holland, the members of The Nightblooms had already played around the local scene in other little known bands such as Three Clouds In The Sky and Alerta. The band was comprised of vocalist Esther Sprikkelman, guitarist Harry Otten, bassist Petra van Tongeren and drummer Leon Morselt. Their sound was very similar to that of My Bloody Valentines earlier work, pre-dating the impending shoegaze boom of 1990. It was noisy, but their first few singles, Go Eliza and Crystal Eyes both had a pop driven charm about them. However, it would be on their 1992 single, Butterfly Girl where the quartet would hone their craft, and show the first glimpse of the greatness that would dwell within their debut album.

Are they not just another shoegaze band?

You could argue that perhaps they were, but by 1992, shoegaze had already started to implode thanks to the over saturation of the scene. My Bloody Valentine were making full on noise with Loveless, and Ride had already started to veer into a more 60’s inspired sound on Going Blank Again. The Nightblooms put a lot of stock into simplistic melodies and major-key chord progressions, keeping a bright and loose feel to their debut album. They didn’t try to be something they wasn’t, with absolutely zero pretension in their playing.

While Butterfly Girl is the stand out track on the album, filled with fuzz and tape loops, the album’s simplicity is what keeps it interesting. The psych-pop shimmer of Blue Marbles calls to mind the sound of girl groups of the ’60s if they were played through a Big Muff pedal, while the humming tone of A Thousand Years drifts in and out of the hazy wall of noise the band make so perfectly. It is another one of those hidden gems that gets missed when discussing the great indie albums of the ’90s.

Granted, the band failed to really expand on what they had created on their debut, with one more album and a handful of singles would be it for The Nightblooms. They would eventually disband in 1996 and sadly fade into a degree of obscurity with Sprikkelman and Otten would go on to form Safe Home, who would release two albums and several singles. Regardless, The Nightblooms debut album is well worth the time tracking down, because it is impossible not to appreciate it.

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