Somos - First Day Back (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Somos

First Day Back (2016)

Hopeless Records


When Somos' lead singer, Michael Fiorentino, said he was leaving tour with the guys last year to tend to his mental health, I got worried. It felt like a dark cloud hanging over their heads as he touched on his bouts of depression and the immediate need to withdraw and treat it. It reminded me a lot about what their friends (whom they actually shared a split with) in Sorority Noise sang about with regards to Cam Boucher (the latter's vocalist) and his depression on 2015's Joy, Departed.  It's a pleasure to report that things are on the up and Somos are back at it; living up to the promise shown off 2014's Temple of Plenty. A big sigh of relief. First Day Back is much more tempered down and filled with slow burners but from the track listing, you can clearly see Fiorentino addressing his mental issues and as his words drive home, he's pleading while bringing out a sense of upliftment. At record's end, you get his message and that's to never give up.

They remain as charming and infectious as they were when they dropped songs like "Dead Wrong" a few years ago. They continue to jam off several punk tropes from sub-genres such as alternative, indie, emo and of course, pop! The first few tracks signal this, for example, "Problem Child" -- all feeling like a natural progression from the catchy anthems and boisterous choruses off their last full-length. Seeing them jump over from Tiny Engines to Hopeless Records was a pleasant surprise and it's highly prominent how clean and polished they've gotten. Reminds me of what Have Mercy (whom they also put out a split with) did as well as The Wonder Years. First Day Back is chock-full of picky chords and melodic hooks in the onset but they quickly temper things down for the second half of the record, giving it personality and helping that feel like it's two distinct personalities at work -- one that's happy and one that's sad. 

Tracks such as  "Days Here Are Long", "You Won't Stay" and "Lifted From The Current" highlight this. They're all very jarring, very real and quite relatable. Haunting yet very much steeped in a sense of vulnerability and honesty. In just over 25 minutes, you're reminded that while this isn't the noisy and brash Somos from four years ago, they're still making good music, evolving and maturing past whatever life throws at them. So far, it's been a lot but for what it's worth, they find a way to take that heavy stuff and produce really good pop-punk. My one drawback is that the record feels throttled too much and it does take away a lot but what they lack in pace, they make up for with strong storytelling. Not a bad way to get back in the game.