Oklahoma’s Somerset West recently released its full-length debut, “The Golden Land,” which has miles more character than the quartet’s 2009 “Lucerne” EP. There’s a lot to like about “The Golden Land,” but the most appealing parts of the nine-song debut are also the most distracting.
“The Great Mistake” is a song about reconnecting. Singer Kyle Lynch makes appeals by broadcasting his location: “I send out transmission, I think we’re losing touch / If there’s grace, where are you now?” The search comes up empty, his call answered only by his own echoic reply and thick, chugging guitar chords.
Album-opener “The Ghost” begins blandly with strummed guitars, but all is forgiven when the chorus storms in with double vocal lines and stacked layers of guitars”some meandering and high-pitched, others fundamental driving.
Winding, delayed guitars and wonderful, echoic atmospherics streak through a Mutemath-esque “The Russian,” but the eponymous sixth track is the album’s most successful. Walking bass lines support Lynch, who’s unabashed and on top vocally, pushing his voice almost to the point of breaking pitch. It’s a great effect and adds a welcome urgency to the album’s midsection.
Recorded at a trio of studios, including the venerable Black Lodge in Eudora, Kan. (The Get Up Kids, The New Amsterdams, The Appleseed Cast), and with tracks produced by Chicago’s Matt Opal (Spitalfield, Kill Hannah, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo), “The Golden Land” is a little disjointed and jumbled, but the mess is welcome and mostly interesting.
Somerset West has a lot to offer. Lynch’s voice, a cross between Brand New’s Jesse Lacey and Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz, is textured and appealing, both raw and with studio treatments. The musicians all bring their different identities to the mix, notably the bassist, who adds impossibly deep melodies instead of simply riding the root note.
All Somerset’s separate elements stand alone, however, and each piece doesn’t quite dovetail with the next, and the lack of final bonding, leaves a few gaps in the grout.
“The Golden Land” is available on iTunes. The band is in Bricktown on April 22 for a show at the Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E. Sheridan. Visit http://www.myspace.com/somersetwest.