Southampton local lads SomaHigh seem to have sensed the worrying decline in successful guitar bands around at the moment, and have cleverly infused their south coast rock with a touch of electronica to prove those who assumed “rock is dead” to be very much mistaken.
With their debut album Secrets That Didn’t Happen, SomaHigh have carved a specific niche for themselves to move up in the world. It is the keyboard element of the band’s sound which makes their music just different enough to stand out. Album opener ‘It’s Easy’ is rescued from plod-along mediocrity by the electronic aspects which hit in its latter stages; and it is this that sets the foundations for an album that rocks and gets a wider audience bouncing along. The edgier ‘Paper Chaser’ is where the album gets properly going, and soon the boisterous riff of ‘Flashback Tuesday’ grabs the listener with laddish charm. Unsurprisingly, with its huge chorus, it is a track branded a fan favourite.
‘Caught on the Backfoot’ uses the synths and strings to channel an atmosphere of a rougher, less refined Muse. The tracks appears as the rugged younger sibling of ‘Butterflies and Hurricanes’, yet it still works thanks to the ability of keyboardist Paul Wolf. In fact, Wolf is key to the album standing out: at times, when left bare, Sean Strugnell’s vocals seem vulnerable, and the band should be careful not to wander dangerously into the territory of Arctic Monkeys and Cage the Elephant who use the attitude and their accents far more effectively.
Secrets That Didn’t Happen isn’t a particularly subtle album, but it doesn’t need to be. As a debut it does well, and will get a crowd fully involved with big rock choruses; and it certainly proves rock is well and truly alive. If SomaHigh maximise their strengths — use the synth beats and fully commit to using keys, like on album closer ‘You Know’ — they will have the material different enough to stand out from shouty indie guitar bands, while still having the ability to get stuck in with a hefty guitar solo. By finding a niche, the future looks bright for SomaHigh.