Somos - First Day Back (Cover Artwork)


First Day Back (2016)

Hopeless Records

For their first three releases, Somos did a tour of putting out records on emo and pop punk’s most beloved labels. Their debut LP, Temple of Plenty came out on Tiny Engines in 2014 and made loyal fans out of pop punk lovers. They quickly followed up with a split with Sorority Noise on Bad Timing Records later in the year, and 2015 saw them on No Sleep Records for a minute as the delivered a split with Have Mercy. Now they’ve made their home (for who knows how long) on Hopeless Records, and they’ve adopted a sound that shreds any trace that they once belonged to the pop punk scene; like other bands in this scene, they’ve gone full indie.

Somos’ label jump from No Sleep to Hopeless Records, whose roster includes the pop-punk giants All Time Low, The Wonder Years, New Found Glory, clearly afforded the band more studio time. Every cut features squeaky clean production overflowing with detail and effects. Unfortunately, all the twisting of knobs and editing on these songs can’t make a record, instead the production sucked any soul this record had out of it. Vocalist and bassist, Michael Florentino’s vocal performances on previous records were tender and colorful, and this go-around it’s ghastly and rid of any emotion. Perhaps the the production took a hold of his vocals, but even on “Problem Child”, the record’s most dynamic song, he sings in an unenthused drawl over soaring guitars during a climax.

Musically, the first half of the record is entirely more interesting listen than what’s about to come on the second end. First Day Back leads with the album's strongest moments. “Violent Decline” which has some bright, noodly guitars and a sugary hook in the chorus. “Thorn In the Side” is the most memorable cut on the album; it’s equally moody and catchy. The track displays some skill in song structure with repetition, but also has some life in the vocals and instrumentation. Unfortunately, after “Problem Child” the album fails to produce a tentpole to extend any energy on the second half of the record. They try and play with some ambience and experiment with space rock on this record, but even the songs at their cores aren’t captivating enough to warrant the production that they overcooked these songs in. The album did a good job at trimming the fat of the album; 11 songs and two interludes clocks in at barely more than 30 minutes and the songs themselves don’t suffer from being too long winded.

On a positive note, Florentino showcases himself as a gifted lyricist on this record; First Day Back is evidence of that this was a therapeutic writing process for him. Though his lyrics are muddled in vagueries, there are tons of lines that reference that he’s been tortured by battles with mental health, which is the continuing theme of the full-length. He has a craft that makes the lyrics get stuck in your head when there isn’t a guitar riff there to do that. He plays around with repeating stanzas that pair with catchy lyrics, which end up being the memorable department of the album.

This effort will probably divide fans of their debut, given that their new agenda diverges into spacey indie territories. Even though the follow-up is a tricky record to write, what Somos ran off and produced is an unfortunate misfire that leaves you bored and wondering how they ended up sounding like Angels and Airwaves. More production isn’t what Somos needed to focus on for their new LP, but it sure makes you miss the songwriting that drew you to them in the first place.