Album Review: Somos' 'First Day Back' lacks the "it" factor

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By Jake Valentine

Somos burst onto the indie-punk scene in 2014 with “Temple of Plenty,” a record that was easily one of my favorites of the year. I liked the album so much that I took the 60-mile trek from my hometown of Sandwich, Illinois, into Chicago to see them in June.EJ While only 14 people were at the show, Somos still played a lengthy and entertaining set.

Fast forward two years, and Somos has released its sophomore LP, “First Day Back.”EJ

On “First Day Back,” we see Somos push its limits. While their first record was consistent in that almost all the songs were upbeat and guitar heavy, “First Day Back” still does that on various tracks, but has strayed away from their punk roots and added a softer, more indie feel.

Lead singer and bass player Michael Fiorentino’sEJ vocals can be described in a various number of ways on “First Day Back.” His voice is haunting and melancholic on tracks like “Alright I’ll Wait” and “Violent Decline,” but driven and raw on “Thorn In The Side” and “Reminded/Weighed Down.” The voice of Fiorentino may take some getting used to for new listeners, but ultimately works well with the type of music Somos plays. It’s not the focal point for the band, but it compliments the music and dynamic of the band exceptionally.

This newly arranged style shines on tracks like “Lifted From the Current,” a song that starts off relatively slow but picks up midway with an infectious mix of catchy guitar riffs and a steady drum beat.

Somos tends to fall short with slower and more dull songs on the album. Tracks like “Days Here Are Long” and “You Won’t Stay” are perfect examples of this. These tracks differ heavily than almost all of the songs off this album simply because they are just too slow. Nothing about these songs are memorable or noteworthy for me; they are just bland and don’t move forward like the rest of the album.

Somos has this way of perfectly transitioning from the raw sound of their punk past into a clean and refined tone on multiple tracks. “Problem Child” starts off with an explosion of guitars, but veers into a smooth groove once the verse starts. The drum beat of this track just flows naturally and is relied upon to carry the song throughout, making “Problem Child” one of the best songs off the record for me.

The landscape Somos creates throughout multiple tracks is impressive. “Violent Decline” starts off with an atmospheric guitar lick paired with soft vocals but dives into a lighthearted groove that makes it hard for the listener to not bop their head. “Room Full Of People” is a perfect example of the versatility and craftsmanship Somos has. With shoegazey guitars littering the backdrop and an irregular drum beat, Somos showcases its softer side before leading into a short but excellent instrumental break to cap off the track.

“First Day Back” has a total of 11 tracks, and while this may seem like a standard length for an album, the record is a short 27-minutes long. This is a bit disappointing as I was expecting more from Somos on their second album, but “First Day Back” is still overall a good album and should help expand Somos’ fanbase.

Rating: 7.5/10

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