Shoegaze act SOM arrived in 2018 and melted hearts with their debut album The Fall, then blew us away from the stage at POST. Festival the following year. The act (featuring members of Junius, Constants, and Caspian) has been described as “doom pop,” which isn’t inaccurate; the baseline SOM modus operandi consists of colossal low-end, lush guitar layers, and airy vocal hooks delivered through a wash of delay and reverb, without pretense or complication. The band even covered Billie Eilish‘s “Everything I Wanted” last year, if that tells you where their heads are at. Their sophomore LP The Shape Of Everything streamlines the band’s sound as they fuse post-metal, shoegaze, and dreampop in their own terms.
There are loads of music blog-friendly adjectives to describe The Shape Of Everything; shimmering, ethereal, floaty. It’s all there and true, and it’s marvelous the way that the band pulls from all directions to inform their sound. There’s no shortage of post-whatever acts out there to which one might make comparisons: so-called “dream-thrash” act Astronoid and modern shoegaze acolytes Nothing are both splendid contemporaries in the way they utilize massive production to deliver subdued vocal melodies. Going larger, post-black metal progenitors Alcest have certainly cast a wide shadow and alt-metal pioneers Deftones have made great strides in melding shoegaze, metallic riffs, and dreamy vocal hooks. SOM apes none of these bands, and creates their own lane.
Opening tracks “Moment” and “Animals” set the album’s tone as mighty and anthemic, and carry a certain Devin Townsend-ness about them. Perhaps its the wall-of-sound production and pop-informed songwriting that allow these connections to easily be made, but SOM’s approach is almost comparatively shy (as much as music this loud and layered can be; that’s shoegaze, baby!), with frontman Will Benoit’s vocals melting into the frame. “Center” is no less massive, but less boisterous (again, not the best word to use) in its presentation. Tracks like “Clocks” and “Wrong” see the band serving its brightest and most pop-oriented material, with hooks that grip deep in the album’s late midsection, the latter specifically vibing like a 90’s alternative rock song, like a Savage Garden or Smashing Pumpkins hit in all the right ways.
In fact, The Shape Of Everything is overall considerably less heavy than The Fall. Tracks like “Shape” and “Heart Attack” do more to hint at the band’s metallic bones, with the former track opening with a grooving riff, stomping percussion, and furious tremolo-picked leads and the latter centering around a propulsive sludge riff, but these moments are relatively fleeting. You could likely count the number of disparate riffs on one hand, but that doesn’t make the album any less magical. The Shape Of Everything sounds phenomenal even if it’s barely a metal record; from Benoit’s vocal performance to the guitar tones and mixing/mastering, it’s such an expertly produced record.
The Shape Of Everything is a whimsical album that is often breathtaking, and serves as a great statement of intent for the band to build a legacy from. Fortunately in these musical spaces, there’s limitless possibilities for where the band could go from here, and they certainly have the collective pedigree to accomplish anything and become a central act in the current wave of shoegaze and adjacent movements. It’s a simple and fun record that provides a nice jumpstart to 2022 and sets a nice tone for the state of ambient rock and metal to come.
SOM’s The Shape Of Everything is out January 21st, 2022 via Pelagic Records. Pre-orders are available at this location.