This is a review of "Did You Ever Love Me?" recorded by The Somatics. The review was written by John Hepworth in 2004.
A phone call from a middleman brought about a nocturnal meeting at The Somatics’ Attic Studio on the high ground of west Leeds, where three levels of concrete stairway led to a warm welcome, and to brief but wide-ranging conversation (Gershwin, the Borderline, King Crimson, the Summer weather of 1928). I left carrying a wrapped, sealed and undiscussed copy of the new product, and now one day later, feel surprised at how my convictions have moved away from favouring the third track ‘Waiting’ - which has more than half the CD’s 12min 28 - to the two brisker rowdier numbers that precede it.
The old factory yard I’d passed through to reach the studio, the graffiti speckled former Post Office van that looked familiar from various music venues, the hurtling rat fleeing my headlights, have become a sort of interior video to the alienated indoor/outdoor world of that first song ‘Did You Ever Love Me?’ with its carefully built tinny-ness over a much richer texture. If a commissioning overlord had demanded the sound of Del Shannon manifest with a touch of Smiths (Patti as well as The), the Somatics could offer the title track of this three item single with confidence, and the rest of us can take that as a recommendation.
Raving vocal claustrophobia from Stephanie bounces round in ‘We Never Loved You’, bursting into a smile-inducing synth-like solo (which, bearing in mind Richard’s aptitude for defining boundaries and then pushing at them, could actually be clever guitar). I wouldn’t like to think the song’s sentiments are yet another duffing up for the Who’s poor old Tommy Walker; but even if that were so, Bruce’s drums put noteworthy style and identity into the procedure.
‘Waiting’ opens lightly before an oppressive windowless or even subterranean feeling develops. A sense of uniformed authority arrives with a military rattle of snare drum, and semi-intelligible Lennonesque vocals suggest an unfocused state of anxiety.
When a listener (such as the one writing this) expresses views too much by comparison with other artists, it can mean the music is only just beginning to reveal itself, and there’s still a way to go before meeting it on its own terms. Inferior stuff wearies the attention before a fuller understanding is approached. Little danger of that with The Somatics, who in this single and elsewhere are likely to stir up interest for some time to come.