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Album Review: First Day Back by Somos

Boston’s Somos have released their sophomore album First Day Back via Hopeless Records. While still having that distinctive Somos sound there’s a marked progression and growth to the band’s sound. Where their 2014 debut Temple Of Plenty was an immediate punchy alt emo record, First Day Back feels more assured and stretched out, it’s quieter with a gradual impact. Think Foxing or TWIABP.

Sure there’s the previously released song, ‘Alright, I’ll Wait’ which has the big hooks and immediacy of Temple of Plenty but largely First Day Back is a completely different kettle of fish. First song proper ‘Violent Decline’ does a brilliant job of bridging the gap between the two sounds. The track builds quietly yet forcefully towards the big the big hook, it’s in the quieter moments that little nuances and more expansive guitar parts come to the fore. ‘Thorn In The Side’ does more of the same, excelling with its immediacy and infectious harmonies. The guitar part towards the end is especially golden. The fact that the band used ‘Thorn In The Side’ and ‘Alright, I’ll Wait’ as precursors to the album release was a wise move, fans of the band should feel adequately prepared for First Day Back.

‘Problem Child’ feels like a band revelling in a new sound, where previously the song would have exploded at the midway point, this time its drawn-out becoming expansive and melancholic. ‘Reminded/Weighed Down’ soars and swoops with grandeur and lush guitar work over Michael Fiorentino’s emotive vocal. Put these two tracks with ‘Days Here Are Long’ and it is striking how much the band has progressed. Particular praise must be given to the shift in sound on ‘Days Here Are Long’, slow and light it focuses on a groove rather than punchy guitars. The impact may be less immediate but it resonates and is 100% more emotive.

On first listen ‘Room Full Of People’ may pass you by, it’s a slow burner. With each listen it grows, becoming your favourite track. It’s all about the little intricacies and detailed guitar work, here the band can be confident in the musicianship and create a masterpiece rather than reverting to big riffs. Both ‘You Won’t Say’ and ‘Bitter Medicine’ feel like they’re over before they begin and could do with being a little longer. The Neil Young-esque charm of the latter is particularly pleasing. Album closer ‘Lifted From The Current’ encapsulates the new Somos sound perfectly. Commanding and assured, you feel like a song of this calibre would have been beyond the band in their Temple Of Plenty era. It’s a track full of atmospherics and delightfully delicate guitar parts that strike an emotive chord. You can’t help but fall in love with Somos all over again.

Don’t be afraid of First Day Back, don’t be afraid of change. If you loved Temple of Plenty (as we did) you’ll love First Day Back. This album feels like a loved one graduating and becoming an adult, this is Somos’ coming of age. An excellent and essential listen.

AD Rating 8.25/10

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