When Somos released their first full-length, Temple of Plenty, they struck as a hard-hitting pop-punk band. That was March 2014, via a small, indie label, Tiny Engines. Two years later, the band have released their second album, First Day Back on Hopeless Records. The loud, punk jams they laid out on the first album have turned into a pitter-patter on their second. Instead of hitting you head-on, now the indie-rock soundwaves shimmy up on you from behind.
The biggest contrast from Temple of Plenty is that the vocals here have been toned down. They’re less harsh, allowing for more moving instrumentals. Its most lackadaisical moments arrive with the first track, “Slow Walk to the Graveyard Shift.” A surreal mixture of knocking percussion and soft, echoing vocals sets the tone for the album, fading right into the next song. “Violent Decline” teems with galactic-sounding synth and forward-moving percussion. These airy transitions carry the album. It’s like you’re sitting at one, continuous (30-minute) Somos jam session. And those melodic, guitar jams are there: just listen to “Room Full of People” or “Lifted From the Current.”
Among this subdued aura, there are songs that stand out among the rest. Without being obviously catchy, songs like “Thorn In The Side” and “Reminded/Weighed Down” latch into your brain. The simple melodies are soothingly slid between more subtle verses. Trust me, you’ll find yourself humming them. Somos’ style really shines through in “Problem Child.” The band develop a technical, regimented drum pattern in this song (as heard throughout the album, as well). They pair this with more free-flowing guitar parts that go this way and that. Similarly, “All Right I’ll Wait” inter-mingles a nonthreatening vocal with sliding guitar parts. The vocals never outshine; instead, they act as a uniting force sweeping over the musical palette.
Overall, I can see myself lightly jamming out to First Day Back in a daze at some basement or bar show. In reality, I’ll probably be playing it to calm myself on a plane or a bus ride. It isn’t the grandest of albums, but Somos’ statement of unique musical style is enough.