“Rock is dead, they say. Long live rock!” That’s a lyric from the Who’s classic Odds & Sods song “Long Live Rock,” of course, and it’s one that forever comes to mind whenever I read or hear claims that rock music is barreling toward oblivion. Some say it’s become little more than a niche segment of a music industry dominated by hip-hop/R&B and, to an extent, that’s true, as it only accounts for 16 percent of sales and streams. But consider this: the consumption of rock music surged 12 percent in 2021—and it’s not all of the “classic rock” variety. Much of it is being made by quite a few cool, up-and-coming acts and artists.
Of late, at any rate, I’ve been enjoying a slew of new and new-to-me rock-oriented acts—Laura Lee and the Jettes are one example, the ’80s-flavored VHS Collection is another and Pip Blom, the subject of this review, is yet another.
The first thing to know: Pip Blom is the lead singer, main songwriter and guitarist—and also the name of her band. The second thing to know: The Dutch indie band released their sophomore set, the self-produced Welcome Break, in November ’21 to much acclaim, earning plaudits from the likes of Mojo, NME and Uncut. Guitars, both jangly and otherwise, accent the tunes, which rise, fall, swirl and twirl with concise abandon. (The longest song clocks in at 4:21, while most hew close to the 3:30 mark.) Their sound intertwines the new wave and power pop of long ago, not to mention the alternative rock of the early ‘90s—especially Belly. It’s polished, hook-laden, pop-oriented rock, in other words, and just plain fun to crank up.
Here they are performing three of the songs, in slightly rougher form, for 3voor12 Radio:
As Blom described the album to Gigwise, “There isn’t really a big theme, I think, some of it is about my personal life, lots of it is about books and documentaries and movies and other musicians or bands. It’s kind of a mixture of everything I think.” Riffs galore accent the goings-on, with echoes of other artists, other songs, sometimes percolating to the surface. Those tips of the hat, whether intentional or not (and my money’s on the latter), never distract from the goings-on, but add to the frenetic flavor and fervor.
Welcome Break may not change your world, but—as is the case with good music—will definitely make it spin a little slower for the 40 minutes or so that it’s cranking through the headphones. (At least, it does for me.) The above song title notwithstanding, in other words, it’s very easy to like. Definitely give it a go.
The track list: