Album Review: Set It Off – Upside Down

A bands evolution is only as strong as the musicians who make up the outfit; after all, they’re the ones responsible for composing the music and bringing their ideas to life. This is what Florida based pop punk outfit Set It Off have done within their career thus far across their discography as they made a name for themselves with the appropriately titled Cinematics in 2012. The record itself was a showcase of crafting a pop punk and cinematic, orchestral blend creating huge set-pieces that created fulfilled visions across each track. In 2014, they followed that up with a different approach, harping more on the pop side of pop punk whilst blending alternative, R&B and rock all into one sound. This mash of influences resulted in Duality, which was one again aptly titled, showcasing another side to the group. With such a huge stylistic shift between their first and second record, it begs the question – where will they end up with their third record, Upside Down?

[tw-toggle title=”About Set It Off”]
Genre: Pop Punk | Pop Rock
Label: Equal Vision Records
Release: October 7, 2016
Connect: Facebook | Twitter
Purchase: Band Website

At the forefront, Upside Down gives off a more natural flow of progression from Duality as the differences in approach aren’t nearly as drastic as they were between Cinematics and Duality. As a whole, this is an album that expands further upon the alternative, pop and rock elements with a stronger level of composition further enhancing its overall level of replayability. The more punk side of the record lives on the first half of the record as tracks like “Something New” and “Uncontainable” sound eerily similar to All Time Low and Fall Out Boy songs. “Uncontainable” and it’s opening anthemic “hey, we’re taking our crown, we’re takin’ it now” with the underlying guitar riff, pulsating drumming and clapping come across very Save Rock & Roll. “Life Afraid” throws in some trumpet flair with slight tinges of R&B backtracking throughout to give it more a dance flair while offering up a different instrumentation approach from the group. These are just a notable examples of the various approaches Set It Off took with Upside Down when it comes to the musicality side of the record.

Set It Off – Upside Down

Set It Off’s third full-length album Upside Down is out now! Visit for music, merch, tour dates, and more! Buy/Stream here: Follow Set It Off: Follow Equal Vision: Lyrics: Car’s dyin’, Not a lot of money, Scared to check my checkin’ account, I guess I’m walkin’ for now, But at least I’m finally gettin’ exercise.

All of the above mentioned leads to the strongest and at the same time weakest aspects of the record. Foremost, there is no denying the amount of versatility and diversity displayed throughout the whole of Upside Down as it offers a multi-layered instrumental and influential approach from huge orchestral backdrops, pulsating dance numbers to rhythmic drumming and head bobbing guitar work. There’s even moments of scratching, vinyl sound effects and alternative vocal elements that truly help each track sound different. The downside to all of this is that there’s a lack of true cohesion, and based off of the album’s title, Upside Down, it may be appropriate, but hurts the flow of the record, making it feel as if it’s almost two different parts combined. This becomes noticeable right away as the first half of the record lives on the punk and rock side while the second half, starting with “Diamond Girl”, starts to see the various elements take charge.  “Admit It” takes an R&B approach, “Hypnotized” has a rap influenced vocal delivery and “Never Know” is a pop rock anthem waiting to be sung while “Crutch” and “Me w/o Us” live wholly in two different realms of pop music.

Looking at Upside Down as an overall package, it lacks in a true level of cohesion that was found earlier on throughout their discography and at times, the lyrical content can come off a tad bit cheesy as many of the songs feel like a love letter of sorts. That being said, it fully makes up for it with a stronger level of composition as the tracks are beautifully composed and crafted with a variety of influences, instrumentation and approaches, while none ever feel entirely too out of place in each singular track. This by no means is a record that will set the world on fire, but it’s one that has an innate level of catchiness and replayability for any mood. Simply put, Set It Off have crafted their most diverse album yet as it shows off the full spectrum of their musical talent, leaving listeners wanting more.


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