Coming off a lengthy hiatus, the band’s passionate take on rock music (lining up neatly alongside acts like Brand New, Taking Back Sunday and Manchester Orchestra) is back in vogue, thanks to the “emo revival” now in full swing.
Black Cloud brings most of the same touchstones found in its 2010 release, The Golden Land, with a new coat of polish, toning down some of the heavier and gruffer tones for a more widely accessible set of songs.
Opener “Are You Coming Down” sounds like it could have been lifted straight off of Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends, complete with the sparse, cascading drum intro steamrolling into a meaty melody. A softer side is explored in “Asleep in the Sky,” where gentle rolls of acoustic guitar and slight electric chugs coalesce into an enlivened chorus. “The Strand (Take Care)” does much of the same, bringing in female guest vocals for an added layer.
The title track finds Somerset West in its best form, though, managing to find a sweet spot between the lush pop melodies explored throughout this new material and the harsher, edgier (though still accessible) songs found in its back catalog, and the guitar hook that carries through it stands up there with the best ones found on Brand New’s Deja Entendu.
It’s not an evolutionary effort by any measure, but it slides in easily enough with this latest batch of emotive rock music, taking back some of the ground it had previously conceded — and the timing should serve Somerset West well.
Black Cloud is available now on iTunes. — Joshua Boydston
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